On our first full day in Cappadocia, we were eager to make the most of our time and immerse ourself in this beautiful region of the world. As we were heading to the Soganli Valley and its churches, we stopped on the way to the Kaymakli underground city. Afterward we also checked out the ancien city of Sobesos and the Keslik Monastery. There are loads and loads of pictures in this post so bear with me in case they don’t load fast enough!
Our hotel manager in Goreme had recommended us to go and check out the Soganli valley as he explained it was less touristy than the Goreme museum. Sold! If you’ve read any of my other post, you already know me a bit and have understood that I like to be away from the crowd!
On the way there, we noticed the signs for the Kaymakli underground city and realized it was one of places he had also highlighted so we decided to make a stop.
Kaymakli underground city
The Kaymakli underground city is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage list and attracts loads of tourist.
It is different than the other places in Cappadocia because the whole city is underground, not a single fairy chimney in sight, not a clue of what you may find underneath the earth, when you are above.
Before the actual entrance of the ‘city’, there are loads of little shops selling the usual souvenirs, pomegranate juice, ice-cream… The number of tourist busses on the parking lot was kind of scary, but once inside we realized a lot of people actually do not visit the site.
And if you have any sort of issues with small spaces, dark places, if you can’t bend, crawl, if you’re worry to get dirty… I probably wouldn’t recommend you to go inside!!
The city is an impressive maze of small rooms, bigger, one, dark corners and small corridors spread over 3 different floors. it’s crazy to thing people have lived there, underneath the earth, but at the same time it seemed very organized and every room had its specific function, from kitchen to living room, bedrooms, stable, storage places, and even wine or oil presses room.
As mentioned, corridors were very small!:
After this underground experience, it was time to head to our destination, the Soganli Valley and its Churches.
The Soganli Valley
The first church that you get to see when arriving in the Soganli Valley is named the Church with Buckle. It is actually located before the entrance of the village.
Climb up the stairs with us:
The fresco inside of the church with buckle have faded with time but you can still see how richly decorated it was and how glorious it could have been when constructed, sometimes between the 9th to 13th centuries.
These holes in the ground looked like tombs. It’s my only guest, but I’m not quire sure really as they were really narrow and not that deep.
The view from up there was so peaceful and relaxing. After having been underground in the Kaymakli city, the space and air felt so good!
We continued our journey and after a very short ride, passed the actual entrance of the valley and the small Soganli village. You can park there and walk but we continued by car. It might sound like a lazy option but at that point with the little map we were given at the entrance, it just wasn’t clear how much distance there was between the different churches. I had read the valley was 16 miles long and I wasn’t ready, to hike that much.
After actually a short distance we saw the second church: the Church with the Black Beast of Karabas Kilise.
In this one, the freaks were much better preserved. Notice how even the dome above the entrance door was decorated.
The whole place seems to have been richly decorated.
You will notice that graffiti were a thing even in the 19th century.
Each church also have several other buildings with different fonctions surrounding it, as the priest were obviously living there.
Next is the Church of the Snake of Yilanli Kilise. The church is also called the Saint George Church, because there is actually no snake in the church but a depiction of Saint George while he is killing the dragon.
The church also has a fresco that is apparently unique in the world called a Mature Jesus. As you know Jesus never grew very old but the representation that local made here is still of an old man. The church also has some other frescoes depicting life after life.
We took the car again and drove to the end of the valley where a restaurant was located. It looked perfect for a stop for lunch but we decided to first hike on the other side of the bank of the valley to the Church with Coupole or the Kubbeli Kilise.
This church is on 2 different floors. and the dome is supported by pillars carved in the rock.
There is one more church on this path: the Hidden Church or Sakli Kilise….. and I can’t find my pictures!!!! I will add when I locate!
Next we went back to the restaurant and took shelter there for lunch as a storm was just hitting us. Timing was really perfect and by the time we were done, the sky was clear to continue our journey.
I had read that there was 150 churches in the Soganli valley. I’m not sure where they might have been as the restaurant seemed to be at the end of this part of the valley. It is at least at the end of the road. Can’t miss it!
We headed back the the village, passed the village center and went on to visit the Church of Holly Santa Barbara or Tahtali Kilise which actually mean church of the doves. It seems to have some of the best preserved decoration although most like ly built around the 5th century.
The last church was saw in the South valley, is the Church with Deer or Gedikly Kilise.
The below picture is of the refectory where the monks had their meals together. The table and the bench are carved directly in the stone. Seems very durable!
View of the village:
An additional note on the Soganli valley: you will see a lot of little holes with white painting around, those are called dovecotes as they were made to attract pigeons inside. The pigeons would come and rest inside and most likely, well, poop. The monks would collect such feces to fertilise their grapevines. Could be an idea for some cities 😉
Time to head to our next stop, the ancien city of Sobedos. If you are still reading, I congratulate you!!
The ancient city of Sobesos
We are jumping in time here as the Sobesos site represent the only known Roman city in Cappadocia. There are excavations have so far uncovered the Roman bath section, the Agora, a Basilica and the Bouleterion or Senate house. There are little fundings for further excavations, but a lot more to be done for sure.
We apparently missed another church just around the corner of the ancient city of Sobesos: the Church of the Forty Martyrs. Don’t miss it if you go!!
The Roman bath:
These Roman ruines are in a middle of the field just outside a very small village. Some women were working in a field next to it and they seemed a bit surprised to see visitors so I’m guessing there might not be that many people coming out of the way to see this.
Our next and final stop was the Keslik Monastery.
A very interesting door:
Someone kept having trouble with the size of the doors!
I’m also missing some pictures of the monastery so I will add when I find them. There was some really nice frescos inside the church.
After a nice apple tea with the guardian of the monastery and a nice chat, it was time for us to go back to the hotel for a nap 😉
If you read up to here, I really really congratulate you!
Why not leave a comment!!