Travel with me #113 : Devrent Valley and the world famous Chez Galip pottery!
Dear Steemit Friends:
Probably one of the most surreal landscapes that I have ever visited, Cappadocia was once the home two three large active volcanoes which spread rocks, ash and destruction for hundreds of miles around.
I once again welcome you back to the enigmatic Cappadocia Region of Turkey. Can you tell that I have a little obsession with this beautiful place? Probably one of the most surreal landscapes that I have ever visited, Cappadocia was once the home two three large active volcanoes which spread rocks, ash and destruction for hundreds of miles around. Once these volcanoes became dormant, the land became to erode. Over millions of years the wind, rain, snow, wind and sun has transformed the landscape and has left unique rock formations scattered all over the region - unlike any you have seen before.
The region is most famous for its Fairy Chimneys, pillars of rock rising straight up into the sky and its ancient cave dwellings. These Fairy Chimneys were created by the forces of nature and millions of years in time. Today we will explore some Fairy Chimneys that are slightly different to those we have seen together before, you're going to love their unique shapes!
A Breakfast with a View
Before I begin to explore the wilderness around me, there was definitely time for a little bit of luxury. My hotel was located right in the heart of Cappadocia in the town of Goreme. Goreme is right in the centre of most of the tourist attractions in the region and is the most established town for tourists that still maintains much of its history and scenic views.
The breakfast at a hotel says a lot about its quality and style, I think. Often overlooked, the breakfast shows if a hotel really cares about paying attention to the details. It's so easy for a hotel to put on pre-made breakfasts that taste stale and contain the same old boring foods. I am happy to report that my hotel for the night was not one of these hotels! The spread laid out before me for my selection was varied and delicious.
Of course, always one to make friends my breakfast companion was this gorgeous little cat. I think perhaps he lives at the hotel and keeps travellers company during their stay. He must have been so hot in his fur coat, even though the heat of the day was just beginning. He didn't seem too worried about the heat just yet though and was content to just purr and rub against my legs as I walked up and down the food to make my choices for my breakfast.
Now before I get on to the food I need to re-admire this view. You couldn't wake up feeling sleepy in a place like this - the view took my breath away. I think there's something really special about eating somewhere with an incredible view. You will see many beautiful views with me today but the ones where you can sit, eat and stare are my favourites. Perhaps it's the mixture of something so 'basic' to life as eating, juxtaposed against such majesty of this landscape in front of me.
Whatever it is that is so special about eating somewhere so breathtaking, needless to say it took me a long time to finish my meal! With the sun still low in the sky and the air temperature still quite cool I relaxed and enjoyed the view while taking in all of the flavours on my plate.
The colours, the colours, the colours! This was not your usual breakfast. With everything from olives to nuts to fruit to cold meats and cheeses, I was in love with the variety. In addition, the little pastries were to die for. The butterfly, heart and flower shapes above were kind of like light, flaky, buttery biscuits. Somewhere between a biscuit and a pastry. Everything felt light, fresh and was so beautiful.
My mouth was watering before I'd even taken my first mouthful. Simplicity is often best and this was beautifully simple. The chef had done nothing more than provide guests with the freshest, tastiest foods, in their simplest forms. What a great way to start the day as I looked out upon the landscape that I was soon to explore!
Devrent Valley or Imaginary Valley
My first stop for the day was to be Devrent Valley, but when I arrived at the car park to jump on my tour bus I was greeted by these wonderful camels! Unfortunately they weren't for my tour today but I did have to say hello and take some pictures before being whisked off on my adventure for the day.
The camel is a very important animal in Cappadocia as it has been used for thousands of years by caravans of travelling traders. The camel is the perfect animal for such a job since they can cover great distances, carry heavy loads and do not need water for many months, if necessary. That makes crossing barren landscapes such as these much easier for ancient traders who would travel with their goods for hundreds of miles to sell and trade.
Camels are still quite common in the area, but are no longer used for trading. They are used for tourists! These very handsome creatures were getting ready to take a tour around the local area on a camel trekking tour. What an interesting way to see the area - the way the ancient caravan traders used to!
But now it was time for my tour! And I was going a little further away so I was taking a tour bus to reach Devrent Valley. Devrent Valley has an alternative name, Imagination Valley which is a very apt name, as you will soon discover. The name comes from the idea that many of the different rock formations found in the valley, are not just the normal straight fairy chimneys that I have shown you in previous posts. They have many different shapes and, just like spotting a shape in the clouds, can resemble many different things!
Arriving in the valley, there was the usual assortments of stalls selling little trinkets to tourists. These very 'normal' examples of human habitation were completely at odds to the surroundings. Even here, where my bus dropped me off, I could begin to see the strange shapes of the rocks in Devrent Valley.
The valley itself doesn't boast the same churches and ancient cave dwellings as many of the other areas of Cappadocia. Imagination Valley has reportedly never been inhabited by man but I am sure millions of people have come to marvel at the natural stone sculptures, created by mother nature herself. Let's go and explore!
These first rock formations weren't supposed to be anything specific I don't think but I thought they looked like men on stilts with tiny heads! I don't know why. Perhaps the imagination of the valley was getting to me already. How do those tiny heads of rock still stay standing a top these spires? I thought they must be able to fall off at any moment. A little disappointed with the 'amazing' sculptures, I continued on and then saw...
This! It was unmistakably a stone camel, just like a stone sculpture of the camels that I had just seen in the car park earlier. I must remind you, friends, that this is completely carved by the elements - mother nature herself. The huge stone camel is 20 meters tall and 12 meters long and as you can see, currently surrounded by fences.
Most places in Cappadocia are not so heavily tourist-ed that areas have needed to become off limits, but as you can see the camel is one of these exceptions. And why? My tour guide told me that they needed to make the camel off limits because so many tourists were trying to ride him!! Oh the image I had in my head of a tiny little person sat on his back was so hilarious that I couldn't stop giggling for a while.
Needless to say, riding this camel is very dangerous since he is so tall. I told my guide that perhaps people should have stuck to the real camels that we saw before in the car park and he said, 'yes, but this one spits less!'. You see, if you didn't know, real camels often spit at people they don't like!
I think that each tour guide in the area had their own set of imaginary things that each rock looks like to them. It was more fun making up my own! The picture above is clearly a ghost with a hat on... Can you see it?
OK so in reality, most of the rocks in the valley were quite hard to distinguish as anything. The camel was clearly a camel but the rest were a bit suspect. Rather than making your imagination run wild, most of the different shapes just challenged your imagination. They challenged your imagination because they probably didn't actually look like much!
Still, it was very fun coming up with the most stupid ideas about what each thing was. If such a thing is possible, you can start to get used to seeing the fairy chimneys that you see all around the region. Devrent Valley certainly had very different rock formations and it was a new challenge to the eyes. Where it started to become easy to gloss over the fairy spires as 'normal', these shapes carved by nature certainly were anything but normal.
As I sat on my bus I waved goodbye to Devrent or Imagination Valley and smiled to myself at all of the different games we play as people. Our imaginations are one of the biggest things that make us who we are as a human race. It doesn't matter where you are from or how you were raised - we all imagine things.
It was lovely hearing what my tour guide thought he saw in the rocks, and making up my own little stories. So much of our culture is based around story telling. Our ability to imagine something and create a story around it is what bonds us as people and helps us communicate.
Did all of the rocks look like things? Well, no. But were we able to come up with a story around them? Yes! And that's really special I think. As you grow up, you don't pretend or imagine as much as you used to. A special place like this encourages you to imagine, to play, to experience, to story-tell - and I loved it!
Avanos and Chez Galip Pottery!
Avanos is a little town in Central Anatolia just north of the province's capital. With a population of around 12,000 Avanos is historically famous for its earthenware pottery. The pottery industry in the town dates back to the Hittite era and remains one of its main sources of income.
The town is situated next to the Red River, which is the longest river in Turkey, and it is this river which produces the beautiful clay used for the making of ceramics. It is estimated that pottery has been a central craft of the region since 2000 BC.
Today I visted Chez Galip, the most famous place to see and buy the unique type of pottery found in the area. Owned by Galip Korukcu who is a master potter, the shop and pottery studio is one of the greatest artistic marvels in Turkey, and indeed the world.
Galip Korukcu himself welcomed us to his shop and it was a real honour to hear him talk about the history of the pottery in the region. Galip first learned pottery from his father while growing up in Avanos where he and his three brothers lived. The pottery workshop has been in their family for six generations.
Galip helps preserve the traditional style of pottery making and painting that has been performed in the region for hundreds of years. He is well renowned all over the world and even museums in France have pieces made by him. His wife who is a Dutch artist and their three daughters all still work in the family business.
The business isn't just about selling the beautiful pottery that he and his family make, it is also about preserving the local art form for future generations. Mr Korukcu is dedicated to running workshops for potters and amateurs alike, to help inspire and teach the joy of this style of pottery making.
You can see here the beautiful colours of the pottery. This craft is not just about the pottery, but about the painting on them. The colours are vibrant and the detail and patterns are extremely detailed. In the top left of the above photo you can see an example of how a plate would start off, and the design would be slowly applied and then kiln fired to bring out the beautiful colours.
As you can see, the colours are some of the most important parts of the designs. They range from blues to greens to reds to oranges. The patterns that Galip creates are unique and diverse. I love how the different colours and styles were grouped in and around his shop. The presentation of the pieces was as much a work of art as the pieces themselves!
Galip and his team pride themselves on making pottery in five main styles. First, and of course the most important, is his 'family' designs. These are his original patterns that he uses to represent his family and the generations of people that have worked on the pottery in his family. He then also does more historical designs, looking back at the history of pottery from the area and keeping those traditions alive. Of course, being an artist, he also experiments with more contemporary designs in pottery, showing that ceramics are still a very important and relevant form of creation, in a world where so many things are now made of plastic or metal! Finally he also works with geometric and floral patterns which you will see amazing examples of in all of these photos.
Traditional pottery studios are generally based, once again, in cave like structures or buildings with very thick stone walls. This makes regulating the temperatures inside the workshops much easier so the artists have a consistent temperature to work in. That means that when the clay is wet it won't dry out too fast when it's a hot day outside! As you can see, the walls of Chez Galip bear the marks of the traditional tools used to carve the stone here.
Here you can see the show room with all of the beautiful pottery, traditional arches and hand carved stone walls. This is still a working pottery studio so there was also plenty of unpainted pottery ready to be worked upon by the master artists here.
If you look in the bottom right picture you will see a traditional pottery wheel. There is a big stone circle sunk into a gap in the floor, with a wooden post rising up out of it. What the potter would do is sit behind the wheel and start to 'push' the round stone circle around with his feet. Once he'd got it spinning really fast he would then allow the wheel to continue under its own momentum and start to shape the bowl, plate or vase with his hands. As the wheel slows down he then pushed with his feet again to keep it going! Amazing.
My dear Steemit friends, I've so enjoyed exploring this area of Turkey with you today. My favourite part had to be Chez Galip, meeting Galip Korukcu the master potter and admiring all of his beautiful ceramic art. You all know how much I admire works of art and even more how much I enjoy beautiful colours. His work shows off that of a truly world class artists and I enjoyed spending so much time walking around his workshop just admiring the beautiful pottery. If you ever have a chance, definitely go and visit him. I didn't have time but I know that a pottery workshop here would be a once in a lifetime experience.
If you have enjoyed today's adventure, don't forget to leave a vote and give my blog a follow for more of these adventures in the future! Of course, the most important as always, please comment below with your thoughts and I very much look forwards to connecting with you all. I have missed being able to talk to all my Steemit friends!
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