During the two days we rode on tours through Cappadocia, we saw a lot of churches. Many had frescoes that were in remarkable condition for being over 1000 years old. One thing they all had in common was this: many of the people depicted in the paintings were missing their eyes.
I took to calling them names such as the “Church of the Eye-Less Mother,” or “Church of the Eye-Less Saints,” or “Church of the Eye-Less Jesus.”
“You’re so irreverent,” said my wife.
“Hey, I’m not the one who gouged out the eyes of Jesus or Saint George. I bet Mary is crying RIGHT NOW!” I said, channeling the Catholic Guilt of youth.
Our excellent tour guide Didem, who led us around on the second day of our tour through the area, explained that the reason so many of the eyes had been scratched out was that when the Muslims took over they had rules forbidding the depiction of the human form and were fearful of the “evil eye.” Hence the eyes were scratched out whenever possible.
Our second day of touring brought us into contact with the legendary Fairy Chimneys. First in the Devrent Imagination valley.
Next near the Church of Saint Simon.
This is the church of Saint Simon.
I managed to climb up to the second floor. It was not easy. I made us of the fence-climbing skills I’d developed in my youth in order to get into forbidden places….
Along with the tourists, there were some pheasants walking around.
In the Zelve Open Air Museum we saw more cave dwellings.
And a church that was converted into a mosque.
Next we went to the town of Avanos where we watched a pottery demonstration. Here, within a few minutes, the man made a handled jug out of red clay.
The place offered many beautiful pieces of high-quality, hand-made pottery, all at high-quality, hand-made prices. We did not buy anything. The kids were wound-up and bored, and began wrestling with each other, so we had to shuffle them out before they broke anything and forced us to make a premature withdrawal from their college fund.
Lunch was at a nearby restaurant. Once again, the kids were not interested in soup, fish, chicken kebabs, salad, or baklava. (Actually, Meredith can’t eat baklava since she’s allergic to walnuts.) So we ordered them some plain spaghetti. The lunch was leisurely-paced, so Steph and I were able to talk with an older couple from Australia who were sitting next us. The husband was a retired magistrate. They were spending a month traveling around Turkey before heading to Bali for a few days before returning to their home in Darwin.
After lunch we boarded the bus and rode to the Göreme Open Air Museum. Göreme has many churches with frescoes in good condition but we were forbidden from taking photos, even without a flash. So no photos of the frescoes of the chapel of St. Catherine, the Apple Church, the Sandals Church (not to be confused with Sandals Resorts), or the chapel of Saint Barbara. All I can offer is a sample of photos of the open air park itself.
We left the park, made a short stop at Esenteppe to take a few panoramic photos of the Göreme valley,
before making our final stop of the day, at the very tall Uçhisar Castle.
After two full, exciting days we were actually glad we did not have any tours scheduled for the next day, Tuesday, or last day in Cappadocia.