21 Aug Avanos
'Land of the beautiful horses'
Cappadocia is an ancient region of East Asia and is also known for its horses. Legends and local guides say that the name Cappadocia in Persian means “land of the beautiful horses”, as, during the times of the Persian empire, many wild horses lived in this area.
Avanos, famed for its pottery-making, rests against the mountain İğdiş Dağı. It is divided in two by the Kızılırmak River, which overlooks the Kizilirmak (Red River). The red clay from the riverbanks is collected and used as traditional household pottery for roof tiles and building blocks. Here you can see pottery being made and try your hand at it by taking a pottery-making class!
Historically, the oldest known name of the city is Venessa, which means ‘city‘ and supplies clay for pottery. Avanos lies 17 km northeast of Nevşehir, 8 km north of Göreme, 13 km northwest of Ürgüp and 70 km west of Kayseri.
Kayseri functions as a bridge between Southeastern and Central Türkiye and is a growing city with the demand of tourists visiting this destination for numerous cultural and historical attractions. The closest airport is in Nevşehir, with Kayseri Airport a bit further afield, but it also has flights to and from Izmir — convenient if you’re coming from Ephesus.
Nevşehir is the primary hub for all the surrounding villages and the centre of the main tourist attractions. You can easily visit the Kaymaklı Underground City from here. And if you want to see the Ihlara Valley without a tour, you’ll need to stay overnight in Nevşehir. If you wish to explore Nevşehir, there is the Nevşehir Castle which provides impressive 360-degree views over Nevşehir. Apart from the castle, a museum and some shopping, there’s not much else here, so my advice is don’t book a hotel here. Choose other areas of Cappadocia, such as Urgup or Goreme, and you will find yourself close to all the sights to see.
The Kizilirmak or Red River
The Kizilirmak, or Red River, is Turkey’s longest river (1,182 kilometres) flowing. It starts in the eastern part of Turkey, flowing n Central Anatolia before heading into the Black Sea.
It is called the Red River due to the red soil that coloured the water. As legend depicts, the Red River was historically significant. The Greeks and Romans called the river “Hallys”, whereas the Hittites called the river “Marassantiya”.
The Red River divides the town of Avanos into two parts; the southern and the northern sides, separated by a swinging suspension bridge. On either side of the bridge are hotels, offices, guesthouses, and ceramic workshops. It is an excellent place for an evening stroll or a cruise on the river in a gondola. Be sure to walk on the swinging suspension bridge over the Kizilirmak River, and admire the views on both sides of the town.
Pottery of Cappadocia
Ceramics, pottery and carpet weaving have been the most important sources of revenue for this settlement for centuries. Like their predecessors, the present-day residents of Avanos continue to make pottery with the red clay removed from the bed of the Kızılırmak River, using simple foot-powered wheels and handicrafts to create clay forms. The shores of the Kızılırmak are full of pottery workshops, and almost all potters continue their fathers’ work.
Carpets at Punto of Cappadocia
Carpet shopping in Turkey is educational, entertaining, and sometimes quite overwhelming. As part of our package tour, one of our stops was Punto of Cappadocia, which specializes in carpet weaving. It was a pretty grand place, and the staff were warm and welcoming.
We enjoyed the Turkish hospitality and received a 30-minute lesson on rug making and how they source the cotton to make them. We watched the beautiful Turkish ladies traditionally weave silk carpets, which was impressive—a unique opportunity to learn about rug making.
After being shown how to make the rugs, the guide escorted us to another grand room, where we could sit comfortably. As part of the Turkish hospitality, Turkish tea or water was offered.
Here, staff would display rugs after rugs to demonstrate the difference between materials and colours from each region. There was no sales pressure, and we all felt relaxed in this environment, more like watching a show.
We weren’t in the market to buy any carpets, but learning about Turkish rugs was a worthwhile experience.
The perfect combination of fine materials gives Turkish rugs their unique aesthetics, bold colours and high durability. Turkish rugs are made with the finest materials of soft, lustrous wool, fine silk and superior quality cotton.
Where To Stay
Cappadocia is not only known for its unique landscapes but also for its traditional cave hotels. While in Turkey, we highly recommend staying in a cave hotel for an exceptional travel experience.
Cave hotels are rooms or suites built into a rock formation or fairy chimneys. They are not cold, dark, damp places (as some might imagine) but rather stunning and romantic, incorporating all the modern amenities you’d expect in a four or five-star hotel. Bathrooms come with all facilities and accessories, including towels, authentic Turkish-style furniture completed with colourful traditional carpets, and interior designs such as lamps, vases and paintings. Tea and coffee-making facilities are available, and some rooms also have WiFi. Most cave hotels are multi-tiered and have terraces to admire the views and hot air balloons over breakfast, also hotel restaurants and luxury pools to relax in.
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