CAPPADOCIA, Turkey - Land of WondersWritten by TravelMake.com
Combined forces of mankind and nature have created three wonders of Cappadocia- its "fairy chimneys" (coneshaped pillars of tuff capped with basalt) in unique valleys that look like another planet, ancient underground cities and 1500-year old rock cut Christian churches. All of it is concentrated in area of approximately 100x100 km in central part of Turkey. Humans first set foot in region about 10,000 years ago. Then, from 3,500 to 1,200 BC Cappadocia was a part of a powerful Hittite state. Phrygians took over administration in 8th century BC. Five hundred years later they were replaced by Persians. Alexander Great occupied territory in 333 BC. Cappadocia's past history includes being a Roman state, a part of Byzantine Empire, a place where many early Christian saints including St.Paul found a shelter, where they lived and taught. Finally, Cappadocia has become a noticable region of modern Turkey with predominant importance of agriculture and tourism. WHAT TO SEE AND WHERE: Fairy Chimneys were created as a result of wind and water erosion when small harder pieces of rock remained on top of larger and softer rock columns. This out-of-this-world landscape impressed George Lucas so much that his original plan was to shoot some Star Wars' episodes in this area. Located in a spectacular valley between towns of Nevseshir and Urgup there are very different, interesting fairy chimneys. UNESCO declared area a World Heritage Site. Some of fairy chimneys have been inhabited for many years, with rooms, windows and staircases being laboriously curved inside creating up to 5-storey structures inside. Today some of these are also providing services to tourism as pensions. The largest of 36 underground cities in area is at Derinkuyu. It is at a distance of 29 km from Nevsehir, provincial center of 7,000 people. Derinkuyu underground city is located under a hill, was found by chance and opened to public in 1965. It covers a 4 square km area and was calculated as able to shelter 2,000 households on 7 floors beneath surface, reaching a depth of 70 to 85 meters. Archeologists tend to believe that Hittites were starters of underground communities which in 6th and 7th were expanded by early Christians into a very extensive complexes with air shafts, kitchens, living quarters, churches, water wells, horse stables and wine cellars. These elaborate subterranean systems were used by people who had accepted Christianity against their enemies both as a shelter and as a safe place to carry out their worship. Next largest underground city is at Kaymakly, 20 km from Nevsehir. Despite of fact that only four underground levels have been excavated, there are speculations that there can be as many as 11 in total. There is also a tunnel that connects underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu (9 km long!) that has a width of of over 2 meters, but unfortunatley it is not opened to public as parts of tunnel have collapsed. Among other significant underground communities in region we should mention underground monastery of Ozkonak and Tatlarin underground city with existing Christian frescoes. Rock cut Christian churches. It is estimated that over 400 Christian churches, chapels and monasteries were built in Cappadocia during Byzantine period until 13th century. Most of them were hollowed out in fairy chimneys, hills and in underground caves. The Tokali church is largest one in region, it was built in beginning of 10th century. Decorated with a cycle containing life of Jesus, it is located right in town of Goreme. The Karanlik church, also located in Goreme is among best preserved in Cappadocia with lively paintings depicting consecration of Jesus, Last Supper, Crucifixion and apostles. The Eskigumus rock cut monastery (close to town of Nigde) is only one where you can see a frescoe with smiling Virgin Mary. Recent discovery of monastery in 1963 allowed it to escape vandalism to which many of Cappadocian churches and monasteries were subjected. Well-preserved wall paintings decorate spacious main church are known to be one of best examples of Byzantine art in all of Cappadocia.
Tourist Season Again! Written by Doug Bower
It is tourist season here in Guanajuato. The streets are once again crawling with pasty-white-legged gringos looking for a good time and wanting to blow a tremendous amount of money.
Here is where I come in as your humble, sincere, and most observant columnist. I would like to offer a few of today's observations on 2005 Guanajuato Tourist Season.
Tourism—here is how it is supposed to work:
You spend many hours at your job and work lots of overtime to save up enough money to take family to Mexico. You look at endless travel brochures, watch every special on Discovery channel that has name Mexico in it, and even start telling boys down at Gipper's where you are taking family this summer.
The summer vacation arrives. You are excited beyond your ability to express. You pack. You put kids and wife on a plane and fly to Mexico. Your much-dreamed-of vacation has finally begun.
Everyone is sworn to be on his or her best and most humble behavior as a guest in someone else's country. And, that is, after all, what you are, as you all agree—a guest.
You would not go to Grandma's house and fart loudly in front of Granny and all her old crony sisters—of course not. You would excuse yourself and go to bathroom. You would try using toilet paper as a muffler, mashing it ever so gently unto your delicate rectal tissues, so as not to gross out all old folks as they are trying to eat their nice bread pudding when they are actually farting themselves but saying nothing.
You are a guest and you will not act in someone else's home as you would in your own. This, you know, applies to being in someone else's country as well.
Tourism—here is how it actually works:
The kids scream nonstop on streets of Mexico because they cannot have a Happy Meal; right cartoons are not on NON-existent television set in a hotel room that resembles someone's bedroom from 1700's; there are no playgrounds or theme parks. There is only a bunch of Baroque buildings that they think is a salad dressing when you try explaining to them word, Baroque.