On this private tour you will see the best Byzantine cave churches of the region with beautiful frescos, the historical local tradition of pottery making, get close up touch and explore the local rock formations, and you can even drink tea in a fairy chimney.
The advantages of a private tour are immense: you can start at the time you like, you have the full attention of the guide so you can ask all your questions, you can take as long as you like at each place, there is no need to waste time waiting for others, and you can actually see more sights than on any group tour.
Included in the price: professional English speaking tour guide, driver and a/c vehicle, gas, car parking, entrances and lunch.
Not included in the price: any drinks and incidental expenditure such as tips.
The sights on the tour are detailed below.
Private Tour & Private Balloon Flight
€1,150* for 2 persons
Dervent Valley is also known as "Imagination Valley" because the rocks have been shaped over thousands of years by nature’s most famous artist "Erosion" into humanistic and animalistic forms; it is the most surreal looking landscape and everyone can understand the shapes differently. Is it a camel or is it a snail? Can you see the seal, the fish, the snake, or even the dolphin? What about Charlie Chaplin, Ataturk the founder of the Turkish Republic, or even the Virgin Mary?
Zelve is an abandoned cave village where Christians and Muslims once lived harmoniously together. The Christians left in the exchange of populations in 1924 and the last Turks left in the 1950’s for new homes with electricity and running water. We are slowly losing this important part of Cappadocian history to erosion, and part of one valley is closed off to visitors. It usually takes 50 about minutes to explore the three valleys with their cave homes, food depots, stables, churches, mosque and stone mill all carved out of the rock.
Often referred to as Cavusin Castle (pronunciation cha-voo-sheen), this spectacular rock citadel once housed the whole village. While it was a relatively safe place to live, the villagers had to carry water up to their homes every day. Saint John the Baptist’s Church, despite its poor condition, is still worth finding, and you can also follow a narrow path to the top of the castle and descending on the other side there are some lovely examples of fairy chimneys. Alternatively you can simply take photographs of this Cappadocian masterpiece.
Pasabag, which literally translates as the Pasha’s Vineyard, is also known as Monk’s Valley. Here you can see the story of the formation of fairy chimneys before your very eyes. Many of the rock pillars here are noted for their three heads. In one of these is a tiny chapel dedicated to Saint Simeon with a hermit’s cave, and it’s three heads may have been interpreted as a symbol of The Trinity. You can spend some time walking around and even touching these volcanically formed natural stelae.
It was once said that travelers knew they were approaching Avanos because the road was paved with broken pots. The town is situated on the Kizilirmak or Red River, known in ancient Greece as the Halys. It’s source is the Red Mountain and it wends it’s way down to the Black Sea. Around Avanos there are deposits of red clay which is still used today. The potters use an ancient Hittite kick wheel, and you can have a go at throwing a pot yourself. The workshops are full of colorfully glazed ceramics; a cultural feast for the eyes.
Goreme Open Air Museum is a natural and historical wonder. The cones of volcanic tuff were carved out to house Byzantine monasteries, each with its own church. The richness of the fresco decorations reflects upon the wealth of the various sponsors who earned the prayers of the monks in an age without antibiotics where death could be just around the corner. The story of Jesus from before the Nativity to after the crucifixion and various saints including Saint George (possibly the most famous Cappadocian) are just some of the historical Byzantine frescos you will see.
On a private tour you have the options of visiting the Dark Church in Goreme Open Air Museum, so called because the sun never entered and the frescos have retained their bright colors. Dating from 12th-13th century, the noteable frescos include the Bathing of the Infant Jesus (representing His first miracle the healing of Salome, from the Gospel of James), and The Fiery Furnace where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are thrown into the flames by Nebuchadnezzar for not worshiping idols (from the book of Daniel).
Esentepe panoramic viewpoint is the best spot to see the fairy chimneys in Goreme village, many of which are still homes to local people. In fact you can see the countryside for miles around. The table top mountain in the distance gives an idea of the original height of the land and how deeply the wind, rain, sun and temperature changes have eroded the region. The red and pink colored rocks of Red and Rose Valleys can also be seen in the distance. Down in the valleys are the vineyards of the locals who use the grapes to make pekmez (molasses).
Uchisar Castle is the highest point in the entral region of Cappadocia, and Uchisar means "the end castle", the other two being Ortahisar "the middle castle" and Bashisar "the head castle" at Urgup. Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans all used these elevated vantage points to survey the surrounding area, and messages using lights and mirrors could be sent from one to the other to provide advanced warning of any danger. Today many of the outside wallls have collapsed, so you get a glimpse of the rooms and living spaces inside.
This spectacular viewpoint, famous for its live pigeons and evil eye tree, offers views of Pigeon Valley’s dovecotes, Uchisar castle, and on a clear day you can even see snow topped Mount Erciyes (3,916m). Local people still keep pigeons, a tradition going back thousands of years, because the guano (pigeon poop) is the best ever fertilizer for the Cappadocian volcanic soil. The inside of the pigeon houses has rows of small holes in the walls for the birds to nest, and the outside is painted with a unique pattern so that the birds can identify their own homes.
* Prices subject to availability (advanced booking recommended).
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