In 2013 we had planned a trip of a lifetime to Turkey that logically began in Istanbul and from there we caught a plane to the middle of the country, to Cappadocia. We landed at Kayseri Airport and it was a smooth meet and greet from our hosts and we were driven to our hotel in the town of Ayvali, about 10Kms from the large town of Urgup. I don’t think we have stayed anywhere as interesting as the Gamirasu Cave Hotel since this time. It was spectacular, not only because it was a former monastery from the Byzantine Era, but the hotel rooms are restored rooms originally built into caves in the cliff face. It could be called “primitive luxury” accommodation in fascinating surrounds. The hotel notes informed us that the facility hails from the Byzantine era, the period from the collapse of the western Roman Empire at the end of the fifth century to 1453 when Turkey fell to the Ottoman Turks. The cave church within the hotel originates from around the 11th century CE so our accommodation for the next three nights was at least a 1000 years old but renovated beautifully in 1999. This is the place where we returned to each night and dining under the stars outside our cave each night was very memorable.
There are two hotels in Ayvali and the website for the hotel we weren’t staying in, Aravan Evi, described Ayvali as “a small village away from the tourist crowds and still has an untouched tradition of a living style. No tourist shops or people who want to sell you carpets are around.” Having been approached by many charming carpet sellers in Istanbul, this was an attractive aspect of the town we were staying in. This website also listed some of the historical monuments to visit in Ayvali and generously listed their neighbouring hotel as number 1 attraction.
- Ayvali Cave church : Attached to Gamirasu Hotel, a 12th century cave church with frescoes.
- Haci Ismail Deresi; Early Christian Byzantine cave churches with frescoes.
- Golgoli Hill cave town at the high top of the mountain with a built historical Orthodox church in the middle.
- 40 Gule underground settlements.
One of the historical and social issues that we would encounter in towns such as Ayvali, its near neighbour Mustafapasa and the more distant Cappadocian town, Cavusin, was abandoned houses. In 1923 there was a forced population exchange between Greek speaking citizens of Turkey and Turkish speaking citizens of Greece (particularly Salonoki) as a result of the continued warfare between Greece and Turkey after World War 1. The signs of this devastating population shift is still evident today, particularly in the crumbling, abandoned mansions in nearby Mustafapasa.
CAPPADOCIA BLOG…Day 2…Part 1
CAPPADOCIA BLOG…Day 2…Part 2
CAPPADOCIA BLOG…Day 3…Part 1