12/06/2013 – 155 days/15241 miles

My friend, Hazal, and I made a trip to Cappadocia.  With my bike being stored at the airport in preparation for the flight to India, we took a flight there, and left the bike behind. Cappadocia is a region in central Turkey that is known for it’s incredibly unique landscape.
The first cool thing about Cappadocia is the natural rock formations. On top of that, there are tons of houses and churches (over 1000 in the region) carved into these rock formations. And most importantly this area was the inspiration for the landscape of the planet Tatooine in Star Wars.

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We stayed at a cave hotel, where the rooms were actually carved into the rocks, making it feel like an old episode of the Flintstones.
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There are TONS of churches in the regions, some having pretty incredible frescoes painted in them. What’s left of the frescoes is typically in pretty good condition (especially considering that some of them are over 1000 years old) due to a small amount of light exposure. One church in particular (the Dark Church) has especially vivid colors, as there is only one tiny window in the church, which barely lets in any light.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of damage to the frescoes. In some of the more remote churches that don’t see much traffic, there’s a lot of vandalism that appears to be very recent, but some is much older. The most common damage seen is that the eyes or faces of the people depicted have been chipped away. Most people think that this was done when the Christians fled the area and Muslims came in, but many also say that this was done by the Christians themselves, when some of them started to adopt the Muslim tradition forbidding idolatry. My lack of pictures is due to the fact they don’t let you take photos in most of the churches.
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Derinkuyu is an underground city, capable of housing 20,000 people. It goes 13 stories underground, but the deepest we could get was the 8th story, which was about 60 meters deep. It wasn’t built to permanently live in, but rather as a place to hide if there was an attack on the surface. Supposedly, people used to stay underground for up to two months at a time during raids on their villages.
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Low ceilings
Round stone to block a passageway
Looking down a ventilation shaft from the first floor, and up from 8 floors down
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This is the location where they originally wanted to film the Tatooine scenes for Star Wars. Based on some issues with getting permits from the Turkish government, they ended up having to film in Tunisia instead.

And last, but not least…pigeons.
In the center of the region is Pigeon Valley, where locals would raise pigeons, primarily to use the poop for fertilizer (they must’ve had a lot of pigeons). They also had various uses for the eggs. They’d mix the egg whites with fine sand to make plaster for the church walls, and they’d also paint over the frescos with egg whites in order to protect them.
Inside the various pigeon houses, the walls were filled with small alcoves where they’d build their nests

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