Thursday, October 16, 2014

Paşabağ.


It’s amazing to think that located in the heart of the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia is an area that local residents consider to be even more out of this world. This is Paşabağ ("Pah-shah-bah") which is known in English as the Valley of the Monks. Paşabağ means "Pasha’s Vineyard", a name it received after the Byzantine Greek population left the region which is located in the middle of a vineyard.  This is one of my favorite places in all of Cappadocia!


Paşabağ contains some of the most striking fairy chimneys in Cappadocia with twin and even triple rock caps - formations that are unique even for Cappadocia! Locals refer to them as the mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys.

Like the cave hotels in modern day Cappadocia, the fairy chimneys of Paşabağ harbor a number of cave dwellings as well as chapels once used by Christian hermits, the most prominent of which is a tri-level chapel dedicated to St. Simeon (Simon) and a hermit’s shelter, built into one of the fairy chimneys with three conical heads.

Walking from the car to the main cluster of fairy chimneys, it was immediately obvious just how popular this place had become.  So many more tourists than when I was here in 2008!  The region has always been popular with tourists but in recent years, the Turkish government has spent a lot of effort promoting tourism and I think it's worked!  Great for the Turks....not so good for folks like me who prefer to avoid the crowds :-(

The path leads from the parking lot to the main cluster of fairy chimneys which contains the various chapels.

Close up view of some caps.

My photo muse :)


A photo of me that I actually like.  Bro did me good!

Obviously, the landscape has remained unchanged since I was last here in 2008 but what has changed are the presence of souvenir vendors!  There weren't a lot of them but I fear that this is just the start.  Give it another six years and there will be a dozen more! 


The other thing that has changed is that the wooden step ladder that we climbed to peek inside St. Simeon's chapel has been replaced by a much sturdier metal ladder.  I'm guessing something substantial needed to be in place to support the  masses of tourists that now descend on Cappadocia.

One of the more unique fairy chimneys.....anywhere in Cappadocia.  Wonder when the cap will fall off?

Looking back towards the parking lot.

I let Bro do the climbing up to see St. Simeon as I've already been up and besides, it's just an empty space.

We noticed the people high up on the ridge.  We decided we had to eventually make our way up to the same spot.

From the main cluster of fairy chimneys, we made our way to the second cluster.  I like this group mainly because you can walk around them to take a closer look.


These are some funky looking rock formations!

Looking back at the first cluster.






From the second cluster, we headed back towards the parking lot and then continued on.  We were headed for the ridge.  Along the way, Bro spotted the beehive boxes.  I told him to keep a safe distance as we no idea if the bees were home or not.


Bro and I climbed the nearby hill and when we reached the ridge, we were treated to birds eye view of Paşabağ.  Truly unusual landscape in just this relatively small patch of land!






There are a lot of the lumpy rocks.  Perhaps they're fairy chimneys-in-waiting?

There's a road in the distance that will take us to our next destination, the Zelve Open Air Museum.

Although it wasn't crowded on the ridge, there were quite a few tourists around.  Surprisingly, there was also a bride having her photos taken.  Argh.....I thought we had escaped them once we left Santorini only to encounter one here!  Bro claims he saw on on the road leading to Efes but we zoomed by too quickly for me to catch sight of her.  This one we could not escape.  And she was a Muslim bride - fully covered except for her face.

She looks like a ghost from behind!


From the hill top, we descended and headed straight back to our car.  Off to the next destination which is just stone's throw down the road - Zelve Open Air Museum, a place that I knew existed but which  I've never been to.