I arrived in Goreme early in the morning and wandered around while the town was waking up. The ride in provided a preview of the wonderful sites of this area. The area is filled with tufa domes (or fairy chimneys), homes and churches carved in the tufa and underground cities. I visited the open air museum and joined a tour that went to an underground city and the Ihlara Valley.
This is a strange an amazing place. At the museum and in the valley there are beautiful churches carved into the tufa and decorated with care. Some decorations were crude–first drafts, perhaps. There are columns and domes carved into the tufa. The underground city illustrated centuries old ingenuity. ‘Decorating tips’ gleaned from my visit include keeping hallways narrow so invading soldiers can’t get through with all their armor and weapons. Just when you get used to the dryness and sun there are water and trees in the Ihlara Valley.
The churches and homes are well preserved. The greatest danger is the erosion of the outer layers of the tufa domes. This has made many structures unstable and unvisitable.
One day I grabbed a trail map from my hotel and went for a hike. The trails were not easy to find, but you are never alone. There are churches along the trails which are also tourist bus stops. The tourists hike a short distance from the bus, see the church and maybe purchase tea or soda from the small shop next to the church. One stop even had a little restaurant with tables and umbrellas!