Thursday 4 July 2019

Cappadocia: Getting To Know Ortahisar

I stayed in Ortahisar which is one of the many small towns in the Cappadocia region. Despite its central location, this town is often sidelined by tourists who prefer to stay in the more popular nearby towns of Goreme, Urgup or Nevsehir. 
Ortahisar is a quaint little town with an archaic setting. It has a landscape which is unique and rather fascinating. Because I like peculiar things which I don't get to see everyday, I can't help but like Ortahisar. I've probably missed out on some interesting activities in the more bustling Goreme but I have no regrets as I took a slow comfortable pace exploring its various corners to seek out its allure.
Visiting Ortahisar town was never part of my travel group's itinerary. What a waste I thought as the hub of town is just a couple of hundreds meters away from the hotel we were put up in. There was no empty slot to fit in a self walking tour so I had to do it at 6am in the morning in the midst of cold drizzle rain.
The town is generally quiet with minimal traffic but it's not because of the early hours or the drizzle. We passed through part of it several times on our way to and out of the hotel  and it appeared just the same.
The town was still sleeping when I walked around. Except for the huge flock of pigeons, the town square was totally devoid of activity. The pigeons must have been happy to own the entire place themselves. 
To capture an image of them flying, I clapped a couple of times. They were probably agitated to have their peace disturbed so early in the morning.
Ortahisar is dominated by Ortahisar Castle, a rock castle that stands at 90 meters (300 feet) tall. It is impossible to miss this spectacular structure as it juts out so noticeably in the middle of town. It is from this castle that Ortahisar got its name as 'Ortahisar' means  'Middle Castle'. It used to be one of the fortresses to ward off attackers during the historical Byzantine times.
This castle is recently opened to the public for a fee (5TL) but as mentioned I didn't have the liberty of time to visit its interior.

Still rustic this town has fortunately escaped the tide of modernization. Cobble-stone paved pathway and walls of buildings, age-old rock-cut architecture seen in the castle and other structures remain its vintage charm. 

The only business that was opened at that early hour was the supermarket. 

Just like in many parts of Cappadocia, cave dwelling is still a thing of the present. Cave hotels and cave restaurants are common sights and many local residents are still living in cave houses.

It is a blessing that Ortahisar is not that touristy. If it is, it will be a matter of time before much of its authenticity is lost. As it is, it still makes a good place to savour traditional Turkey at its best.

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