Suitcase and World: Zelve Open Air Museum.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Zelve Open Air Museum.

From Paşabağ, we drove about 5 minutes down the road to arrive at the Zelve Open Air Museum. 

The small parking lot was pretty empty.  Barely a handful of cars and two tour buses.

Where there are tourists, there are souvenir vendors.  Surprisingly though, not as many as you might expect to find.

Zelve is categorized as a museum so that means an entry fee is required.

Cappadocia does offer a Museum pass.  For TL45, the pass offers inclusive admission to Göreme Open Air Museum including the Dark Church, Ilhara Valley, Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı and Özkonak underground cities and Zelve Open Air Museum.  The pass is only valid for 72 hours and so we had to decide whether or not it would make sense to buy the pass.  For us, it actually was a no brainer to get the pass even though we had no idea what the entry fees for the other places would be.  I figured  if we averaged even just 9TL for entry fee to each place, we would at least break even though we would only most likely be visiting one of the three underground cities included in the pass.  Entry here is 8TL but I am certain that it will be much higher for the Göreme Open Air Museum and there is most likely a separate entry fee for the Dark Church which is THE highlight of the Göreme Open Air Museum.

With our passes in hand, we scanned them to enter past the turnstile.

The Zelve Valley, now known as the Zelve Open Air Museum, is one of the largest and earliest-settled communities in the region.  It was an amazing cave village, honeycombed with dwellings, churches, a mill and even a small mosque.  The area was inhabited until 1952, when the last inhabitants abandoned the village and moved to a new town Yeni Zelve ("New Zelve"), located about 2 kilometers away. In 1967, Zelve was turned into an open-air museum.  Several dovecotes are also found in the valley.

Zelve is spread out over three valleys, of which two are connected by a tunnel.  We entered the site on a path that seemed to wind its way through the area.  Bro had a map in hand but believe it or not, it was a challenge to find the starting point.  

In the end, we mainly followed the posted signs using the map to give us the bigger picture of the layout of the place. 

As best as we could to follow the path, I'm not sure that we covered everything but no matter, we enjoyed our walk.  So, you'll have to forgive me as I might not have all the places identified correctly.  I do know that we started with seeing the Mill.  You can't miss the grindstone at the entrance.

Next, it was on to the Fish and Grape Church which is so named because of the frescoes of fish and grapes that are painted on the cave walls.  Don't ask me if I got photos of the fish and grapes because I didn't.  It wasn't until just a few minutes ago that I learned about the frescoes.  You can tell when I haven't done my research beforehand :-(  So, without further ado, I give you the Fish and Grape Church.

We continued to follow the path and in fact, we had a longer walk than perhaps expected as the tunnel that connects the second and third valleys was closed.

It was a picture perfect fall day and I just love being here among the craggy rocks.  I can only imagine how difficult life must have been living here.  I have yet to come across a stream or river in Cappadocia; don't know where people went to get water for them and presumably, their livestock.

One thing about the landscape here.  There are a lot of nooks and crannies to explore and we checked out as many of them as we were able to.  Unfortunately, there was no signage to explain exactly what were were looking at.  If I could make a suggestion to the Turkey tourism folks, it would be to have more signs/plaques.  It would help us tourists appreciate the sights more.

The path wound us up and down across the three valleys.  It was a bit of a challenge taking photos as we were in and out of the shade.  Every now and again, we would stop to take a bit of a rest.

The Zelve Open Air Museum covers quite a lot of ground and I have to admit, it didn't take long for everything to start to look the same.  Harshly put, you could describe it as a lot of rocks and holes.  When I start to think that way, I know it's time for me to move on.

But, that doesn't mean that every now and again, I didn't happen on a view that just took my breath away.  I have to stop and just take it in.  I will be forever amazed by this surreal landscape. 

Just imagine if your home was here.  Wow!

More nooks and crannies but some were too high up for us to reach.

I wonder when people decided windows had to be rectangular or square in shape.  You would think that carving a circular shape would be easier.

All in all, we ended up spending a little over an hour here.  In reality, there isn't all that much to see.  Perhaps if there had been more descriptive plaques, we would have been here longer as we would have stopped to read and learn in order to better appreciate the sights.  Maybe on my next visit :-)

Even so, I would recommend come to the Zelve Open Air Museum....if nothing else, to enjoy a wonderful stroll through the remains of an abandoned cave village.

Next, we were off to another familiar place - the Devrent Valley.