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We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

Museums of Cappadocia



by Fred Moore - April 2008

Carol and I are on our own for a week to visit museums we have only driven by in our travels of times past. During this week away, we intend to correct our past short comings.

Again, as usual we make our ‘home' at the Ottoman House in Goreme; a great central location for travel to local attractions. Yuksel and the staff make it a wonderful visit as always. We have a suite on the third floor and look forward to a full week visit. The highlight of ‘my' stay is the tremendous breakfast offered at the Ottoman House. The weather is a little less warm this time of year, actually; it's quite chilly today, and it's threatening to rain.

We decide we will visit with friends while relaxing this week and while traveling to Urgup, Uchisar, Ortahisar, Nevsehir, Kirsehir, Mucur, Nigde and Kemerhisar. We truly have no set itinerary but we want to visit sites not visited before and even re-visit others for more education. We've found that no matter how many times a site is visited there are opportunities to learn more and to see new things. Turkey is a land of multiple Empires; one stacked upon the other, generations of people have built and rebuilt upon their ancestor's ruins. Cappadocia doesn't offer ruins necessarily but it does provide a vast expanse of unusual underground and above ground landscape carved into homes, churches, stables and storage rooms.

We've visited Urgup a number of times over the last twenty years but have never visited the local museum. It's very conveniently located in the center of the village just a few footsteps from our favorite carpet shop (Le Bazaar D'Orient) however; we've never crossed the street to visit! We changed that today with our stop in the village. The museum entry fee is 2 Lira per person, as are all of the museums we visit. This one is small, basically a one room exhibit hall, but it's worth the few minutes it takes to browse the glass cases and static displays. There are several exhibits of native costumes, military memorabilia, fossils from the area, stone carvings, metal work, carpets, pottery pieces and other ancient artifacts.

After browsing the museum, we decide to walk the streets in the shopping area, another thing we've never done to any great degree. We're thinking lunch as we tour up, first one street and then down the next. We cross over the main thoroughfare and spot ‘Corbaci', literally translated – soup man; this is a wonderful little divided restaurant, meals on one side soup on the other. We opt for soup and enjoy a relaxing lunch.

It's a new day and we're off for new adventures. We rarely stop in Ortahisar but decide to make a visit this morning. The sun is trying its best to make an appearance and the morning is lovely. It has rained in the night and the air is crystal clear. There are three cats ‘collecting rays' as we walk toward an onyx factory at the end of a dead end street between a couple antique shops. We walk into the shop on our right; it's small and cluttered with all matter of ‘stuff', things recognizable and things totally without description. I spot a cane hanging from a long wire stretched the width of the shop; “canes are something I collect,” the shop owner tells me, “they're not for sale, these are my private collection.” I admire several of them, even take one down for a closer look and thank him for the opportunity. Carol has found a small jewelry case full of necklaces and pendants; she finds an evil eye pendant to add to her collection. This is a tear drop shape made from swirled glass with an evil eye center, it's baby blue and very different; she buys two, one for her self and one for her office associate.

Out of the antique shop now and a few more steps puts us at the onyx shop. Just outside the shop I stop to get a photo of a large block of onyx not yet cut to discover what may await within; will it be animals, vases, ash trays or chess sets? We enter Hisar Onyx Factory at the foot of the Ortahisar Castle, the exhibit hall we enter is shelved around the interior and there are shelves down the center weighted down with onyx treasures. We are invited into the cave factory; we see the equipment necessary to create all items to be sold by the owner. There's a lathe for turning the stone, a stone cutter's saw and polishing machines. Everything is covered in ‘years' of onyx stone dust! When all of this machinery is in operation, the working conditions in this cave factory must be nothing less than appalling. Aside from the door we enter, I see no ventilation at all.

After looking at the machines that create all the treasures, we see for sale, I notice a tray next to one of the polishing machines and pickup a semi-polished lion figure. Carol decides she has to have one of their miniature lion figurines before we leave the factory cave; she wants a fully polished finished product as a reminder of what we've seen. We step to the shelving covered with animal figures and search, finally, I locate one lion and Carol has her souvenir.

As we are walking back to our car, we stop at the antique shop on the other side of the street owned by a very fascinating gentleman; he calls himself Crazy Ali. Interesting name he has bestowed upon himself, we didn't find him crazy at all. On the contrary, Ali appears most rational and very fascinating. Ali is a poet (he tells us he was born in 1947, a native of Ortahisar, and has no desire to leave his hometown) and recited a few of his pieces of poetry for us. His first recital was a romantic piece; ‘Playing Hide & Seek with Your Eyes', then he went on with several other selections. An interesting piece (I didn't get the title down) dealing in how the human race fails to live at harmony with one another; very deep but quite profound. He's a real master of recital; he raises his right arm toward the ceiling and whirls it as if collecting words from the passing air currents, then with great drama, he begins gently showering us with his words of deep passion. I told him when he'd concluded his recitations they sounded like they could have come directly from the pages of Mevlana writings in Konya. He told me his grandfather was Sufi (he said the man had lived to nearly 100 years of age) and the writing and recitals were in his blood.

As we continued to talk, we learned that our friend Murat in Urgup was a childhood classmate of Ali. We talked of our appreciation for Turkey and its wonderful people; never once were we pressured or encouraged to buy anything in the shop. I walked around the small shop several times but bought nothing but before leaving the shop, Ali gave Carol a gift of silver and the both of us an autographed postcard indicating our friendship, one for the other. As I walked back toward the car with Carol, I couldn't help but think, here's another Turk who doesn't know me from Ahmet but has collected me (us) as a friend. Should you visit Ortahisar, do take time in the company of this wonderful, warm and compassionate gentleman's company.

Nevsehir - this city is a lot like Urgup; we've been through it more times than I can begin to tell you but we've never taken the time to stop at their museum. What's even more amusing is the fact that this museum is not even hidden in the community, it's two car lengths off the main street just before the turn off to Goreme. This museum consists of two floors and has a very lovely collection of area artifacts representing the region surrounding us. It's well worth a stop (no less than an hour); there are numerous archaeology exhibits as well as extensive ethnological exhibits consisting of native costumes, military memorabilia, fossils of the area, stone carvings, metal work, carpets, and pottery of all sizes and descriptions.

I was especially pleased to see the Ottoman Medals on display in a case just inside the entry gate down the steps and to our left; they have always drawn my deepest respect as I've read so much about Turkey and how it has been transformed over its many centuries. I know that someone gave his all to wear those symbols of honor and national struggle. In the center of the floor enclosed in a white rail fence are three terra cotta coffins displayed on a bed of stone. Each exhibit is briefly described in Turkish and English – more native tongue than foreign but with a little bit of imagination you can collect the educational significance provided in each display. Another exhibit case is festooned with Byzantine crosses. Especially beautiful is a very fine crucifix. Then there are ancient handcrafted art pottery pieces on display. There are numerous floor exhibits of stone carvings and terra cotta burial pots: small, medium and large. You will also find a number of carpets/kilims on display in the upper level hall along with copper plates and wood carvings.

One note of surprise from this visit; I have a Cappadocia book printed in 1976; within its pages is a photograph of a sarcophagus being excavated from a local site. That same sarcophagus is at the foot of the entry steps to this museum! Carol says, maybe there are more than one like it, well maybe, however, the similarities are far too striking in my opinion, I think it's the exact sarcophagus!

It's another new day and we've set our path for Kirsehir. This is a city we've not visited this time in country IF we've ever visited here, we're not certain. On our drive from Goreme, through Avanos, we make a slight detour off the four-lane and drive through Mucur. Mucur is a centuries-old carpet center. We own a carpet from this village and simply want to drive through; you never know when a carpet shop might pop up for exploration. We don't notice one today but that doesn't mean none exist. I don't leave the village the way I entered it (connecting again with the four-lane). We wind up traveling through the beautiful rolling hills north of the village. All of the rain has brought the landscape to life. So many shades of green blanketed the hills all around us; crops are in and growth is evident everywhere we look. At one point, we have the most amazing sight in the sky overhead; storks, hundreds of them swirling in a self-imposed cloud of birds thousands of feet above us. We're witnessing a graceful stork ballet on the rising thermals; a stork's wingspan must be 7 or 8 feet! It's spring and the storks are returning to nesting sights they've occupied for generations; their incredible sense of navigation brings them back to the same spot year after year. On many of the slopes we pass there are storks pecking at the undergrowth; both in the sky and on the ground, these are amazing birds who provide us with just one of nature's wonder as we drive.

After reviewing our trip, I feel like I may have made a serious omission not stopping in Gulsehir or Hacibektas; oh well, maybe next time. Both of these communities appear to hold sites of interest and we must return one day.

Once we arrive in Kirsehir, we follow the signs to the museum. Signage in this country is almost never good; it's quite tricky on occasion to locate a particular site by following signs. We find the museum on a side street and find a parking space too! The museum is sandwiched in between several other government buildings so one MUST be looking for it specifically.

We pay the entry fee and find ourselves in a small exhibition hall but learn there are two floors to be explored. We've entered just minutes before a major childhood invasion; a local class of elementary school students have come for a visit today as well. Carol becomes involved as usual in conversation with the children and I try my best to stay well back out of the fray. The children all wish to demonstrate their meager grasp of English and Carol is very pleased to indulge them with the standard responses to “how are you, what is your name, where are you from”?

This museum is again archaeological and ethnographic. The ground floor is adorned with display cases of pottery, coins, artifacts and carved stone exhibits. The highlight here is the stone carvings, each is set in a raised iron frame for your closer inspection and a short English inscription is set on the wall behind them. The upper floor is primarily carpets and native costume exhibits along with a replica of a traditional salon (sitting room). The one thing that is a highlight for me is a Kirsehir carpet hung on the wall with the portrait of Ataturk knotted into it; I say knotted rather than woven because carpets are not woven, they are made by tying a series of knots on a foundation of cotton or wool threads. The exhibits aren't extensive and minutes rather than hours are plenty of time to take in the entire collection. It is slightly more extensive than the museum at Urgup and worth the visit should you be in the city; I wouldn't make a special trip just for this.

On the way out of the city, we stopped at the Cacabey Medresseh/Mosque. This structure dates from 1272; astronomy, language, Islamic mysticism and philosophy were taught here. Most notable here, each corner of the building is adorned with a sculpted column designed to look like a rocket ship and each even shows what appear to be rocket exhaust trails; 1272 and rocket exhaust--you explain it, I certainly can't. It's raining and we don't spend much time walking around the building; it's difficult to hold both an umbrella and a camera! We want to go inside but as it's a mosque complex and shoes MUST be removed; I opt to pass because of the awful weather. This is probably a mistake based on some photos I've seen in the local tour book but I simply don't want to take the time. As you know by now, I don't appreciate driving and with the rain; it's even worse so I want to get moving again.

We leave the city and head back toward Kayseri on the four-lane highway I left back in Mucur. We find that Mucur is only 12 or 15 kilometers from here and head off in that direction. We talk about lunch as we continue down the road and as we enter the city limits of Mucur, we find what appears to be a fairly new petrol station, ALPET. There is a restaurant here as well so we opt to stop for lunch; very good choice, it's a cafeteria and our lunch is great. Highly recommend this one if you're passing and need some sustenance; there are nice restrooms and a very nice shop below the restaurant too.

We're returning home today and decide at the last minute while passing by Nigde, we need to stop to see just one more museum. This is the museum NO ONE should ignore; we nearly did! This museum is somewhat hidden within the city center – we saw NO SIGNS until we got into the city center (where we assumed a museum might be located) and then IF we had not been actively searching we'd have missed the sign down one side street entirely. This was not completely accidental; we had been encouraged to visit this museum by our friend Taner in Uchisar. Driving and looking for directional signs in a city is NO easy task.

Once we found the building, we pulled into the grounds and parked beside some Greek and Ottoman grave markers. We walked around to the front of the building and up the steps to enter a large lobby atrium. We paid our fee and an attendant unlocked the gates and turned on the lights. This is another interesting side note; each of the museums had to be unlocked and the lights had to be turned on for us. Energy is no commodity taken for granted in this country. We entered into the Neolithic Age and move through era after era toward the Romans, ending the visit with the Ottomans. We can't help but feel this museum emulates the grandeur of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara but on a smaller scale; it has many of the same rich exhibits. We step from one exhibit to the next admiring artifacts of immense historic significance and beauty. There are terra cotta burial pots, large and small, as well as a coffin. There are obsidian exhibits, copper ore, ancient glass, china, metal, and armor displays. Again, we find Byzantine Christian exhibits, another wonderful crucifix and other crosses. There's a large re-construction of a traditional Ottoman salon all behind and within a glass room size case. Then we encounter their carpets and kilims of the region--beautiful examples of local handcrafts of generations gone by. This museum visit has most definitely been the highlight of our entire week away; as we turn for home, we both comment that to have missed it would have been a serious mistake!

We're now back on the main road toward home. Thirty minutes into our drive, we come to the sign for Kemerhisar and decide to pull off and visit the ruin there. We've stopped here before but it's only 3 kilometers off the main highway and we take the time. We want to re-visit the aqueduct here and the Roman Bath complex. In minutes, we're driving around both ruins. The aqueduct here is well worth a stop, within this village an excavation is still active. It appears that an amphitheater is being slowly unearthed at the end of the aqueduct and this site will bear watching to see what new discoveries can be found. After twenty minutes of driving through and around the village, we continue our drive toward home.

We're climbing now toward the 1600 meter (5,248 feet) Caykavak Peak; as we crest the peak, the horizon explodes before us with beautiful majestic snowcapped mountains. This has got to be one of the most beautiful panoramic views in this great country. This brings our week long adventure to a close; a vacation is nearly always too short a time and this week has certainly been no exception.




Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
Bahar's Views on...
Business World
From Members' Pen
Interviews with Members
Moms & Kids Corner
Pets with Dr. Demirel
The archives of The Guide
The Archives of Turkishtime
Teen's world

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Fred's Trip Logs
Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya

Focus On
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