Did you hear the one about.......?

Goreme Camel_IMG_5456.jpg

Why did the camel cross the road?

I don’t know. Why?

The chicken was on vacation.

Ha Ha Ha!

Goreme Camel_IMG_5459.jpg

Goreme Camel_IMG_5460.jpg

Goreme Camel_IMG_5461.jpg

Goreme Camel_IMG_5462.jpg

Adorable camel at Gorme Open Air Museum in central Anatolia, Turkey.

Friendly Planet - Best of Turkey tour

The Fairy Chimneys of Goreme

The area around Goreme, a town in the Cappadocia region of central Anatolia in Turkey, is home to fairy chimney rock formations making this landscape somewhat surreal.  Where are we?

This amazing landscape was first formed when three volcanoes erupted some 30 million years ago depositing tuff - a soft rock that is easily eroded into these magical shapes.Goreme_IMG_5352.jpg

Goreme IMG_5347.jpg


Goreme 03559.jpg

Goreme 03561.jpg

Friendly Planet - Best of Turkey tour

Roadside vendor and much more - in Cappadocia

While stopped at the roadside pullout in the Devrent Valley (in Cappadocia region of Turkey), we stopped by the roadside vendor who had set up a souvenier shop.

Clothing, handbags, scarves, rugs, fabric by the yard, tablecloths, jewellery, pottery and more - whatever your souvenir heart desired - it was here!Devrent Valley Vendor Collage.jpgDevrent_IMG_5334.jpgDevrent_IMG_5335.jpgDevrent_IMG_5333.jpgDevrent_IMG_5332.jpgWe also came across this cutest puppy - as content as can be!Dog at Devrent Valley_IMG_5328.jpg

Dog at Devrent Valley_IMG_5327.jpgTime to say goodbye to this adorable dog and this gracious roadside vendor and move on to more sightseeing!

Friendly Planet - Best of Turkey tour

Devrent Valley, Turkey

Devrent Valley (also known as Imagination Valley or Pink Valley) is located about halfway down the road from Avanos to Ürgüp. This valley has a lunar-like landscape with rocks shaped in animal formations! No inhabitants ever lived in this area but the wild shapes in this landscape is worth a stop to check out! The area is covered in tiny fairy chimneys (as seen on the left hand side of this photo).  Our stop here was very short so I didn’t get the chance to see the other animal shapes naturally carved out of these rocks such as a dolphin, snake and seal.Devrent Valley_Panorama1.jpgMore fairy chimneys dot the landscape. A friend hikes up to get a closer look.Devrent Valley_IMG_5325.jpg

Devrent Valley_IMG_5322.jpg

Devrent Valley_IMG_5324.jpgNo wonder this place is called Imagination Valley - if you take the time to hike this region, you will spot such natural formations such as an alligator, praying Mary, seals, dancers, a couple kissing, and a cobra. A friend takes a closer look (RH side).Dervent Valley_IMG_5329.jpgThe camel rock formation - now fenced off so visitors don’t attempt to climb up on it!Devrent Valley_IMG_5330.jpg

Camel_Devrent Valley_03551.jpg

Camel_Devrent Valley_IMG_5315.jpg

Use your imagination here! 

Friendly Planet - Best of Turkey tour

Zelve Ruins in Cappadocia - Part 2

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.Zelve Ruins_Panorama1.jpgWe 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.Zelve_IMG_5286.jpgThroughout 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).Zelve_IMG_5285.jpgand here.Zelve Valley_IMG_5246.jpgAnother church carved out in this pink limestone - have a closer look at the details in the next few photos.Zelve_IMG_5298.jpg



Zelve_IMG_5302.jpgNear the end of this valley looking back towards the entrance to this fantastic open air museum.Zelve_MG_5304.jpg


Zelve_IMG_5306.jpgView from a great vantage point - looking back towards the entrance of this valley.Zelve_03548.jpgEnjoyed 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.

Friendly Planet - Best of Turkey tour

Zelve Ruins in Cappadocia - Part 1

Just south of Avanos, in the Cappadocia region of Turkey, are the Zelve Ruins - an open air museum which once was a cave town. You need at least three hours to hike through and discover all that Zelve has to offer - three valleys that contain a multitude of cave homes, carved and painted churches, grain mills and wine making rooms. Left on our own to discover, we quickly ran out of time to see it all!

In this region, the Christians and Muslims lived in harmony until the early 1900’s. I read that in the mid 1920’s, there was an exchange of minorities between Turkey and Greece and the Christians left for Greece. The Muslims remained living in this region until the 1950’s when they too had to leave this region due to the continuing erosion of the rock which made living here too dangerous.  It is now a ghost town but is open to visitors to explore - revealing fine examples of some of the oldest Cappadocia architecture and cave paintings.Zelve Open Air Museum_IMG_5227.jpg

Zelve Valley_IMG_5228.jpg

Zelve Valley_Panorama1.jpgA path leading to the central part of this vast outdoor museum!Zelve Valley_IMG_5235.jpgCarved out rock that once was home to hundreds of Christians and Muslims.Zelve Valley_IMG_5229.jpg

Zelve Valley_IMG_5230.jpg

Zelve Valley_IMG_5234.jpg

Zelve Valley_IMG_5236.jpg

Zelve Valley_IMG_5237.jpgSteps leading up to carved out buildilngs.Zelve Valley_IMG_5238.jpg

Zelve Valley_IMG_5246.jpg

Zelve Valley_IMG_5253.jpgOff to visit the church and mill located in the NW corner of these Zelve Ruins.Zelve_IMG_5282.jpgSeten (Mill) - a rock-cut mill for grinding the grains which was in use until the 1950’s. Zelve Valley_IMG_5254.jpgThe Fish and Grape Church located near the Mill.  Gorgeous cave paintings still exist.Zelve Church_03517.jpg


Zelve Church_IMG_5280.jpg

Zelve_IMG_5281.jpgThe religious paintings and carvings inside the Fish and Grape Church.Zelve_IMG_5260.jpg

Zelve Church_IMG_5260.jpg



Off to discover more of the Zelve Ruins.

Friendly Planet - Best of Turkey tour

Turkey's Cappadocia region

Having left Özkonak we made our way back to Avanos and then headed south into the Cappadocia countryside.

What fascinating topography!Avanos Countryside_IMG_5205.jpg

Avanos Countryside_IMG_5206.jpgLooks like moonscapes to me!Avanos Countryside_IMG_5208.jpg

Avanos Countryside_IMG_5209.jpg

Avanos Countryside_IMG_5210.jpgMore interesting rock formations - this was just the beginning of spectacular scenery to come!Avanos Countryside_IMG_5212.jpg

Avanos Countryside_IMG_5216.jpg

Avanos Countryside_MG_5218.jpgNearing the Zelve Open Air Museum - looking forward to this visit and wondering what an open air museum is all about!Avanos Countryside_IMG_5220.jpg

Zelve region_IMG_5222.jpg

Zelve region_IMG_5223.jpg

Zelve region_IMG_5224.jpg

Zelve region closeup_IMG_5224.jpg

Friendly Planet - Best of Turkey tour

Özkonak Village Scenes

Özkonak, the small village which is home to the Özkonak Underground City lies approximately 14 kms NE of Avanos and some 30 kms NE of this province’s capital, Neveshir.

One of the village mosques in Özkonak. Özkonak _IMG_5204.jpg

Old and new buildings down one of the village lanes.

Özkonak _IMG_5200.jpg

Özkonak _IMG_5199.jpgI just loved this painted sign for this business - perhaps a machine shop of some type?  Er Demir translates to hand iron - I think.Özkonak _IMG_5202.jpgAnd what’s not to love about this beautiful blue doorway, stone wall and greenery!

Özkonak _IMG_5201.jpgLeaving Özkonak behind and off to see more interesting sights in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.

Friendly Planet - Best of Turkey tour

Özkonak Underground City

Özkonak Underground City - discovered in 1972 by a local farmer. This ancient underground city is located approximately 14 km NW of Avanos, Turkey. 

Underground cities in the region were carved out of the soft limestone and existed to help shield the inhabitants from invading armies. Entire cities lived beneath the earth in these carved-out caves complete with living quarters, stables for their animals, wineries, food storage and places of worship.  It is said that this ancient underground city of Özkonak was large enough to house 60,000 inhabitants up to three months.

What makes Özkonak Underground City unique is that it was found to have a communications system of pipes to each of its levels while other large underground cities in the region did not.

Four floors of this underground city are currently open to view (I believe we saw the first two levels when we were there) however there are apparently ten floors reaching to a depth of 40 m.

Nearing the entrance to Özkonak Underground City while the town of Özkonak carries on daily life in Turkey.
Özkonak Underground City _IMG_5197.jpgÖzkonak Underground City - sign at entrance, description and map of the underground city.Özkonak Underground City_IMG_5196.jpg

Özkonak Underground City_IMG_5194.jpg

Özkonak Underground City_IMG_5193.jpgA look at some of the rooms that are carved out of the soft tufa (a type of limestone).Özkonak Underground City_03480.jpg

Özkonak Underground City_03482.jpg

Özkonak Underground City_03490.jpg

Özkonak Underground City_03489.jpg

Özkonak Underground City_03488.jpgA closer look at the rolling limestone doors. Above the tunnels are micro-tunnels carved in the stone which allowed the inhabitants to pour hot oil on the invaders as them descended through the tunnels. Large rolling doors carved out of the limestone blocked tunnel entrances trapping the invadors with no place to go. Stones would then be placed on the ground to keep the stone doorway in place, unable to be budged.Özkonak Underground City_03493.jpg

Özkonak Underground City_03494.jpg

Özkonak Underground City_03499.jpg

Özkonak Underground City_03505.jpg

Özkonak Underground City_03504.jpgLooking up through a ventilation airshaft and source of some light in the underground city. I found it easy to breathe in the tunnels - I didn’t find it damp nor musty in this underground city.Özkonak Underground City_03495.jpgA small niche carved in the stone (with a drain on the lower right-hand side).Özkonak Underground City_03503.jpgA corridor leading to the rest of the underground city.Özkonak Underground City_03509.jpg

Friendly Planet - Best of Turkey tour

Central Anatolian Countryside Scenes

Scenes from the window as we continue traveling further along the Anatolian plateau in central Anatolia, Turkey.

A small flock of sheep grazing on the remnants of a harvested grain field.
Turkey_03460.jpgTowering above Aksaray in central Anatolia, is Mount Hasan (elevation 3253 m - 10,672 ft), an inactive stratovolcano. It is that region’s second highest mountain. It is quite possible to climb to the summit of Mount Hasan - a 5-6 hour trek up from the highest point reachable by vehicle from the north side.Turkey_03462.jpgEast of Aksaray - the scenery begins to change gradually from the flat plateau we’ve been driving on for some time. Hills begin to rise up as we near the Cappadocia region of Turkey.Turkey_03463.jpg

Turkey_03464.jpgNearing Avanos in the Cappadocia region - fascinating topography!Turkey_03469.jpg

Turkey_03471.jpgJust north of Avanos, we pass by what looks like dwellings in the rocks.  It’s just a taste of what we’re about to see next!Turkey_03475.jpgOff to see the Özkonak Underground City.

Friendly Planet - Best of Turkey tour


Welcome to my travel photo blog. Photography has been a part of my life for a long time – back in the day the Pentax Super Program was always near at hand. But it wasn’t until I started travelling around the world that photography became a vehicle for me to show others about the absolutely amazing and complex world we live in. My hope is to share with you glimpses of what I’ve seen. Enjoy!