Trip to Turkey 9. Derinkuyu underground city

DSCF8885 1024.JPG

Some caves had absolutely vast numbers of people dwelling in them.  The Derinkuyu underground city is a place you can visit a short bus ride away from Goereme where a Christian community lived underground.   This place had 30,000 people living there!!!   The entrance just has a place to buy your ticket, a mosque with miniret and a souvenir and snack shop.  Our guide, a friendly local Turk gave a “Salam Al Akoum” (similar to Hebrew Shalom Alechem) greeting to the staff on the gate, an Arabic greeting (peace with you) that’s probably common among all other non Arabic speaking Muslim countries.

DSCF8882 1024

This place had a ventilation shaft/well with winch system to bring water and other supplies.

DSCF8884 1024.JPG

Inside one part of a corridor was a short passageway with a shorter cross section, yes a church, carved out room in a cross!   Other parts of the complex were where people were trained in the gospels.  These would of been Greek speaking believers.

DSCF8876 1024

This door works with a sliding rounded stone, similar to the one thought to be the tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem, and like some other tombs of similar design.   This can only slid from the inside providing a very secure means of the people in the underground city protecting from hostile attackers.

DSCF8881 1024.JPG

This is where part of the teaching would of been preached.   I’d love to know what the shelf bit with the steps would be for.

You can read more about the underground city of Derinkuyu here

This was a really fascinating place to see, and makes me thankful that I can worship in my church without risk of imprisonment or worse.  I don’t remember anything about the age of this place or how long it was used as an a dwelling.   We only spent an hour in there, and only fraction of it can be actually seen.

Previous 8. On this rock I will build my church
Next 10. Varying uses of caves and the camel man


Trip to Turkey 8. On this rock I will build my church

In many different news sources and blogs, we are told that the church is in decline, numbers are falling.

This may be true of some churches but not all.   If we only get our information from the newspapers we might think that Christianity is coming obsolete.

DSCF8829 1024

Not all churches are church-like buildings.   Not all churches in the UK are part of the Church of England or the Vatican some other more familiar religious authority.   Some churches are traditional or contemporary and are purpose built, some churches borrow someone else’s building like a school, hotel or community centre, as it maybe more cost effective or flexible for their needs this way.

DSCF8830 1024

Some of churches back in the day were caves!

I saw this place on the outsides of the official museum of Goereme’s open air museum which is full of cave churches.  This one you can see for free a few hundred metres away.

Its not functioning.

DSCF8830 b.JPG

And it was shut.   Funny as its not winter.   I visited here during April.

My ticket I got for the Balloon ride shows 5th Nisan 2016.   Hold on Nisan is the Jewish word for April!   This month and a few others are also the same in Turkish, despite Turkish isn’t a Semitic language, I guess this is more from Islam which borrows a few elements of Judaism.

Ok, these churches aren’t functioning places of worship, and Turkey is a 99% Islamic country.   There are believers here, the gospel is being spread, but it is underground.  There is talk about persecution that could be happening at the moment, so I’d imagine these meetings are more likely to be in people’s homes.

No, I didn’t see this there, and yeah I’d wait till I’m back in the UK before writing this blog 🙂  Turkey isn’t known for freedom of speech and religion.   My point is churches represent a group of people meeting together rather than the fabric of the building itself.

Matthew 16 : 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will bed bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will bee loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

In this case, church was built in the rock!

Previous 7.”Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam” or Turkish Star Wars
Next 9. Derinkuyu underground city

Trip to Turkey 7.”Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam” or Turkish Star Wars

I went to book a tour around Cappadocia and saw this on a street;

IMG_20160403_135536108_HDR 1024

Star Wars in Turkey?  Really?  I thought New Hope was filmed in Tunisia?

I sat on roof top with a beer with my laptop chatting on Facebook to a friend in Malta who is an avid Star Wars fan and film buff, he had never heard of it.   In fact I went on the ‘green tour’ and our guide said nothing about it.

Apparently a Turkish film company attempted to make their own sci fi flick using some abysmal acting, hilariously daft costumes and incoherent script (even to the local Turks) but using lots of unauthorised bits of real Star Wars and using the theme music to Indiana Jones (!) made this film considered one of the worst movies ever.

Shame as the unique landscape of Cappadocia must be attractive proposition to film makers I would of thought, and George Lucas must of put Petra on the tourist map when Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed in Jordan in 1989.

You can watch this whole film on youtube here, as some has added English subtitles now 🙂  I plan to watch it soon, skipping through bits of it, it looks like early version of Flash Gordon, especially the bad guy who looks a Ming type character.

Previous 6. Hot Air Ballooning
Next 8. On this rock I will build my church

Trip to Turkey 6. Hot Air Ballooning

baloons pano 1024

This is something I wanted to do as a kid!!   It meant getting up at 5am though.

DSCF8972 1024

Our bus picked us up at 520 in the morning, and took us not far away just outside the town.  Setting up a hot air balloon looks like quite a complex process.   There is a ground crew who bring along the balloon and the basket on a pick up and trailer along with ropes and tools.   To get started up, the basket must be be on its side with the gas burners fired to start getting the balloon inflated.

DSCF9007 1024.JPG

After chatting to the other passengers and momentarily looking away from the ground, I realised we got really high!    The pilot says if we go higher than this we would need oxygen.

DSCF9018 1024.JPG

DSCF9012 1024

The basket has five compartments and can hold 24 people, like a boat, people shouldn’t move around during flight, therefore the pilot stands in the middle (in front of me) and there are two separate sections either side of the middle and thus people are loaded into different sides evenly.   You are trained to a ‘brace’ position, which involves crouching down and holding onto some ropes to minimise the possibility of injury in case of a sudden descent or collision with something.   The pilot did play a bit of a game of chicken by going between some tall rocks and trees when we first took off!!

I made friends with a Korean who spoke no English but we mutually wanted to get pictures of each other through Facebook.

DSCF8984 1024

Some of the ropes I think operate a kind of rudder to allow some degree of steering.   This balloon was built in Bristol, and I asked our pilot how he got his licence for flying.  He told me the Turks have to go to England or US to do this, although he is actually Egyptian.  I notice as well as four burners with a throttle lever on each of them, there are actually 5 gas tanks, which are marked ‘for ballooning only’ appears one is a spare.

DSCF9011 1024 DSCF9004 1024 DSCF9002 1024

Once down on the ground again, we had a glass of champagne (fizzy apple juice I think as many of others flying with us were local Turks who were religious Muslims)  and got a certificate to take home.

ballooning getting started 1024

This was a truly unforgettable day.   At 100-150 Euros a go for about 1-1.5 hour session ballooning isn’t cheap but its an experience I’d recommend do at least once, especially in the spectacular unique landscape of Cappadocia Turkey.  Since the first company who originally set up shop doing this, this has become super popular, so there is at least a dozen balloon operators in Cappadocia, so it pays to shop around as booking can be done direct, through a travel agent in Goereme high street or via the place you are staying.  Be warned, that they won’t fly in windy weather so there is a risk your trip could get cancelled so it pays to plan to fly at the beginning of your stay in Cappadocia, if wind is unfavourable you can maybe do it a day or to later.

Previous: 5. Spirit filled believers from Cappadocia
Next: 7. “Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam” or the Turkish Star Wars

Trip to Turkey 5. Spirit filled believers from Cappadocia

DSCF9031 1024

My phone isn’t readable in bright sunlight, I’m glad I brought a real bible 🙂

IMG_20160405_133836939 1024

Acts 2 : 2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Me myself, I’m still trying to learn about tongues and spiritual gifts, its great to know there were so many believers of such different backgrounds in the middle east and beyond, which might sound completely unthinkable today.   I believe we will see true peace when Jesus returns soon.

I put the different ethnic groups of people into Google Maps to see how the body of Christ were all over the Levant.

Previous 4. The cave town in Goereme
Next 6. Hot Air Ballooning

Trip to Turkey 4. The cave town in Goereme

Ok, so here in Goereme, which is the main town built around tourism, the big thing here is cave houses.

cappa2 pano 1024

Part regular house built around a cave.

DSCF8808 1024

Its nice and comfortably warm now, but think this could be cold during the winter….

cappa cave house 1024

IMG_20160403_174400395Imagine a Estate Agents’ write up for this, “This property has unique character, with patio in between two hulking great rocks hollowed out for utility room/kids bedrooms….”

My hostel looked pretty utilitarian from the front, but at the back where we had breakfast was a bit more different.

The roof had a place to sit out which was pleasant at night…


IMG_20160404_180713053 1024

The unique scenery in Cappadocia was formed thousands of years ago by volcanos, and the hundreds of pointed rocks are locally known as “Fairy Chimneys”

baloons pano 1024

Later I got to see a truly magnificent way to see the landscapes…

Previous 3. Drought
Next 5. Spirit filled believers from Cappadocia

Trip to Turkey 3. Drought

Going through central Turkey on a bus felt a bit like Israel, in terms it feels like a desert country.   Israel has these bright pinky flowers growing on almost every town even in a lot of communities in the Dead Sea area, here in the central part of Turkey I saw no wild flowers at all.   It was quite clear that drought in a severe drought here, with a fountain outside a restaurant dry and unused in ages.  There were a few crops at the side of the road but all grass and vegetation looked brown.

It was only by this drived up river in Goereme, that someone left their cow tied up here as this was the only half decent bit of vegetation.

DSCF8824 1024

This poor creature didn’t have any shade or any water left for her.

Out of the four Middle East/Africa places I have been, Jordan, Israel, Morocco, the Palestinian territories.   Only Israel seems to really treat animals well.   Its odd the animal rights/vegetarian groups are greatly attracted to the pro Palestine movement.

Previous  2. Getting to Goereme in Cappadocia
Next 4. The cave town in Goereme

Trip to Turkey 2. Getting to Goereme in Cappadocia

Well, it wasn’t such a simple journey getting there.  At least you can now use a London Oyster card to get to Gatwick Airport from the main tube network.  Last year you had to still travel using the traditional orange BR style tickets, I’d ideally like a way to buy this along side my flights.

I flew from Gatwick to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (there are two airports in Istanbul, not Constantinople!) 🙂  I found to my horror the visa I bought from Turkish government wasn’t valid as I put down the wrong week by accident.   The woman behind the counter at the visas department mentioned I had to buy another one for 25 Euros or $30, and they wouldn’t take Turkish Lira.   So it was a case of using a ATM machine close by, getting some cash out, paying the women to get a little postage stamp type visa sticker, similar to one I got in Jordan.

Once passed the security clearance, I decided to try and get some sleep on the seats of a closed coffee shop.   It was midnight and I had the next plane at 7am.  Doesn’t matter how much your budget for travel you still often have to travel at unsociable hours.  The second flight to Kayseri was just two hours.   When I got there I was surprised to see this tear in my luggage, I have insurance but there’s a fairly big excess so I don’t think I will bother.

Once in Keyseri, you can tell this is a world away from the Health and Safety and strict aviation rules of the west.  I actually walked from the plane to the airport building.   No cones, no staff, no directional signs.  Once out, I managed to get a bus and head to Goereme.  It came apparent that communication could be a problem, as very few people I DSCF8804 1024spoke to knew English.   The bus had Android tablets built into the back of the seats, and a man on the bus came and served us water, coffee and cheesy biscuits.

I didn’t stay here, but there is plenty of hotels and hostels that share this built around rocks style. 🙂

Previous 1. My dreams of rocks and caves
Next  3. Drought


Trip to Turkey 1. My dreams of rocks and caves

For sometime now I’ve been fascinated with the stories of the cave churches in Turkey.  Early Christians converted these caves into dwellings and early churches.

The strange landscape in Cappadocia I think I originally saw in one of Michael Palin’s travel series many years ago.

turkish cafe

This is outside of a Turkish restaurant in Portsmouth I saw a month ago.

I originally wanted to travel to Turkey last year, but only having enough leave last year to go away for a long weekend, it didn’t see worth it, so I went to Norway instead.

In the beginning of April I took a week off and booked a flight to Keyseri in central Turkey. After I ordered my tickets I got to see on the news there were bombs going off in Istanbul and Ankara, some killing tourists from Israel and Germany.   As someone who has lived in Israel 2009-2013 I have been closed to places where tragedy has happened.   I didn’t plan yet to cancel my trip as 1/ I’m only going to small towns in Turkey, 2/ It would be just is risky to travel to Paris, Brussels or even London.

The UK Home Office web site stated that they only don’t recommend not going within 15km of the border with Syria.   Still I carefully watch the news, and I really wanted to see this place as I know in the future things could change and some places in the middle east like Turkey may not be possible to visit in the future.

Next  2. Getting to Goereme in Cappadocia