Posted by Vi Warkentin on
Zelve Ruins, Turkey - this area has an amazing historical story - a religious and important settlement area between the 9th and 13th centuries. The Christians settled in this region during the Persian and Arab invasions. The Zelve valley region in Cappadocia is among Turkey’s earliest-settled and last-abandoned monastic valleys. A large Greek population lived here in the pink volcanic tufa (limestone) until the early 1920’s. Then in 1922, there was a massive ‘repatriation’ of people to their mother countries carried out by Turkey and Greece.
This area remained inhabited until the 1950’s when the people moved out to nearby regions due to an earthquake that left unsafe conditions as some of the rock formations began to crumble. This area was re-opened as a museum in 1967. Found here are churches (at least four), a mosque, home dwellings, wineries, grain mills etc.
Read more about the Zelve Ruins in a prior post of mine here.We took some time to hike through this valley - great views and amazing cave ruins. Took the path on the left and hiked towards the back of this valley, crossed over and returned along the path on the right.Throughout this region, you will also find tiny niches (dovecotes) carved into the tufa. It is believed that these were carved out for pigeons to perch on. Pigeons were very important to the inhabitants here for various reasons - communication (carrier pigeons), for their eggs (said to fix frescoes on cave walls using the egg whites) and for their dung (said to be collected as a natural fertilizer for use in their agricultural crops. (note the tiny niches carved in the rock on the right-hand side of photo).and here.Another church carved out in this pink limestone - have a closer look at the details in the next few photos.
Near the end of this valley looking back towards the entrance to this fantastic open air museum.
View from a great vantage point - looking back towards the entrance of this valley.Enjoyed our time here - there was much more to see but we were on a tight time schedule and could not linger longer here. If you have the chance, take at least 2-3 hours to hike around here to see it all.