06 June 2014

Goreme Open Air Museum

I was beyond excited when my visiting friend, MG, agreed to go to Cappadocia with me. I'd had several people tell me 'Don't go to Cappadocia without me! I'm want to go when I visit!" Then said people didn't visit. May is still early season in Cappadocia so I convinced MG that it would be a great side trip.

View from our hotel room

View from our hotel room

Our doggie guide
Apparently no one told the weather that it was a good time to visit because there were thunder storms predicted for our entire stay. What do you somewhere where literally the entire reason for going is walking around outside if it's raining?! We were about to find out.

Our hotel was about 1.5 KM from the Goreme Open Air Museum. It wasn't raining when we left our hotel but it started while we were buying water. I of course was jacketless (it was warm!) and had unthinkingly left my umbrella in the hotel. I shake my head at myself. I did at least have this weirdly shaped clear plastic rain coat thing for my camera. My brother gave me these ages ago an I'd never had cause to deploy them.

So that happened

Luckily the rain on the way to the museum was fair deal-with-able. Which was especially good because the camera raincoat frustrated me and I just took it off and hoped that it wouldn't rain too much. Only partially sure that we were going in the correct direction we were happy to run into a friendly stray dog who I swear was leading us to the museum. We were a little worried he might get hit by a car as he went berserk chasing and barking at the passing vehicles. Thankfully they all avoided him and when they passed he trotted down the road a piece, waited for us to catch up, and then kept going.

We did finally find the museum but hesitated to buy tickets. While the rain that had been pretty steady when we started had tapered off at that point, the sky did not look promising. A sudden crash of thunder and a streak of snake lightening hitting the ground in the near distance decided us. When the skies opened the resulting deluge was enough to make me wonder if God was going back on his word to not flood the earth again. We, along with everyone else in the vicinity, ran for the museum cafe for cover. Luck was with us and we managed to get the last free table and spent the next hour or so being entertained by all the people dressing up as Ottomans for souvenir pictures.

The rain finally let up and, now armed with a 5TL rain poncho (me that is, MG had a real raincoat) we decided to risk it and went into the open air museum. We got pretty lucky all things considered. It rained on us a bit but not overly.

Karanlik Kilise
This region of Turkey is where many early Christians lived and the open air museum is home to I don't even know how many cave churches which were used in those early days. Sadly they don't allow pictures in any of them. So you'll have to trust me (unless you Google image it) when I say these cave churches aren't like your today churches. There's no where to sit. There would maybe have been an alter and some candles...and not a lot of room for anything else. What is so impressive though are the surviving frescoes. The so-called Karanlik Kilise, or 'Dark Church' built in the 11th century is the one that has an extra entrance fee (there's always something here in Turkey that has an extra fee). It is definitely worth the additional 10TL ($5) though. The interior is much larger than any of the others and the frescoes are shockingly well preserved. It's gorgeous. Horrifyingly, it was used a pigeon house from the time of the Ottoman invasion until the 1950s. It's amazing that the frescoes survived that.

Tokali Kilise
Rain aside our first day in Cappadocia was a success! Having got up at 4:30AM that day to catch our flight here we were pretty tired. And since we had to get up the next morning at 3:30 AM for our next adventure...we turned in pretty early.

Stay tuned for more Cappadocia adventures!

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