Cuba - More than old cars
Leaving Goreme we headed for Konya. Our first stop was the underground city of Kaymakli. This city is carved out of the rock and has many levels going to a depth of 90m. It was not just a city for the villagers but also for their animals. It had excellent ventilation but there is no evidence of a sewage system (unlike the Cu Chi Tunnels of Vietnam). We followed the arrows to level 7 which was probably enough for all of us. The hallways and stairs or ramps were very narrow and very low – about 1.2m high. One of our party was getting a bit anxious as we neared level 7 but bravely held it together for the rest of the tour. The area had suffered an earthquake just a few days before probably heightened our experience!
Back in the bus we headed off to the Ihlara Valley. This 16km long gorge was settled by Christians escaping fro the Romans and contains dozens of churches built into the rocks. We walked for about 4km along the bottom of the valley enjoying the high cliff faces, spring flowers, fast flowing river and other vegetation. At our exit point we stopped for lunch sitting at a table on a platform in the middle of the river. It was a pleasant contrast to our busy schedule.
Next stop was the Agzikarahan Caravanserai. Built along the Silk Road these Caravanserais have been referred to as “camel caravan truck stops”. These are simple buildings surrounded by a rectangular wall exterior, one entrance, an open courtyard with stalls and chambers to accommodate merchants, animals, merchandise etc.
Once back on the bus we drove through open countryside and saw many people searching the fields. They were collecting mushrooms, a variety that must be dug up like a truffle. It apparently has aphrodisiac properties thus attracts a price about 5 times that of standard mushrooms.
As we entered Konya, our next stopover, we visited the Mevlana Museum. Built in the 13th century this was the mausoleum of Rufi, a Sufi mystic. Also on the site was a mosque and a Dervish lodge of the Mevlevi order of the whirling dervishes. This centre was used for educating and teaching the Dervishers. In 1927 the site was turned into a museum. The sarcophagos of Mevlana is under the green dome with coffins of his family nearby.
After checking into the hotel we were soon taking a walk to get some dinner but first stopped at the Alaeddin Mosque. The mosque started as a Christian Basilica and was converted in the 11th century to a mosque using material from a nearby church and other Byzantine buildings. In the 13th century a large room supported by 42 columns was added. Now there are numerous steel supports throughout the building to help prevent it collapsing from the many earthquakes the region experiences.