Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

“If you’re claustrophobic, then you might want to stay here.”

That’s what our guide Yücel (pronounced yoo-zhel) told us before we descended to the 8th and deepest level of Derinkuyu underground city. Entering a narrow passageway just wide enough for one person, we lowered our heads and walked single file down to a room that was barely big enough to fit all eight of us. I’ve never experienced claustrophobia in my life, but being in a tight space like that, crouched down almost 300 feet below the surface of the earth, it wasn’t hard to understand the feeling.

We were barely halfway through the first stop on today’s Green Tour and already we were filled with a strange sense of trepidation and excitement. I knew right then and there that this would be an interesting day ahead.

Derinkuyu Underground City

The underground city of Derinkuyu is buried in mystery. No one knows when or why it was built, how many people it housed, or even how deep it really goes. Many theories about its history abound but no one really knows for sure. Neither Ren nor I had ever been to an underground city before — let alone one this large and complex — so all the mystery only added to the fascination. It was like being shrunk down to the size of a fire ant and brought deep into the belly of its colony.

As described above, Derinkuyu was the first stop on today’s “Discover Cappadocia” tour. Commonly known as the Green Tour, we booked it with Bridge of the World for 45 Euros per person inclusive of all entrance fees and lunch.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

To give you a better idea of how deep it goes, check out this tourist map of Derinkuyu. Though only 8 floors are open to the public (reaching a depth of 280 ft / 85 m), archaeologists estimate that the city could contain up to 18 subterranean floors. It isn’t the largest underground city in Cappadocia — that distinction goes to nearby Kaymakli — but Derinkuyu is the deepest. As advised by Yücel, if you’re at all claustrophobic, then these underground cities aren’t for you.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

No one really knows for sure but it’s estimated that up to 20,000 people lived in Derinkuyu at any given time. It contained churches, food stores, livestock stalls, wine cellars, schools, even commercial spaces. There’s a ventilation system to filter out smoke and an irrigation system that supplied drinking water from wells filled by an underground river. Places like this make you realize how remarkable human ingenuity is.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Parts of it have collapsed so it’s no longer usable, but there’s a 3-mile-long (5 km) stretch of tunnel on the third floor that once connected Derinkuyu to Kaymakli. Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are the most well-known but a total of 36 underground cities have been discovered in Cappadocia to date. Archaeologists believe they could number in the hundreds.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Though estimated to have been in existence since 15 BC, it wasn’t until 1963 that Derinkuyu was re-discovered by the modern world, and by accident too. As the story goes, a man knocked down a wall of his home only to find a mysterious room on the other side. He continued digging and discovered an elaborate tunnel system with more cave-like rooms that turned out to be Derinkuyu.

Knock down a wall, discover an underground city. The real estate value of his house must have skyrocketed that day.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Making our way up and out of the underground city. Some operators of the Green Tour will take you to Kaymakli while others, like Bridge of the World, will show you Derinkuyu. As mentioned above, entrance is already included in the tour fee but you can visit Derinkuyu on your own for 20TL. It’s open daily from 8AM-7PM in the summer and 8AM-5PM in the winter.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

A short video of our Derinkuyu experience. Claustrophobics beware.

Selime Monastery

At the end of Ihlara Valley, which is our next stop, is Selime Monastery. A rock-cut monastery similar to the ones at Göreme Open Air Museum, Selime is notable for two things — its cathedral-sized church and Star Wars.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Following in the footsteps of camels. This tunnel-like corridor used to be traversed by camel caravans that would stop at Selime to peddle their wares at its bazaar. Selime was part of the Silk Road trade route.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Selime Monastery is the largest religious building in Cappadocia. Apart from the church, the monastery also contains monks’ quarters, a huge kitchen, and a stable for mules.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Luke, I am your father. These fairy chimneys are said to have been the inspiration for the desert planet Tattooine in Star Wars. They couldn’t film here because of a civil war at the time so they replicated the landscape and filmed in Tunisia instead.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Making our way to the top.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

See those holes carved into the rock? Those are pigeon houses. People would rear pigeons so they could harvest their droppings and use them as fertilizer.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

One last look. For day trippers, entrance to Selime Monastery is 10TL.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Lunch

Not sure if Bridge of the World’s Green Tour always stops here, but we had lunch at Ihlara Star Restaurant just before entering the valley. Lunch is already included in the tour fee though you’ll need to pay extra for drinks.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Soup and salad to kickstart our lunch.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

We had our choice from six entrees today. I got this mushroom and cheese…
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

…while Ren went with the beef casserole. They look pretty but neither of them were very good. 🙁
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Ihlara Valley

Around 14 km long (8.5 miles) and 100 m deep (330 ft), Ihlara Valley is one of the most popular places in Turkey for hiking. Entrance is 20TL.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

You make your way down into the valley using these steps. The valley has four entrances in all.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

What makes Ihlara Valley unique is the fact that its canyon is honeycombed with rock-cut dwellings and hundreds of churches. We visited just one church today — Agacalti Kilise or “Church under the Tree”.

You can’t see it in this picture but all the eyes in these frescoes have been scratched out or painted over. According to Yücel, the Qur’an prohibits images of humans in temples, so when these churches were converted into Muslim mosques, the eyes were deliberately removed.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

A river runs through it. The Melendiz River cuts through the valley making for a pleasant hike. Nice to hear the sound of the water while you walked.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Not sure exactly how far we went but we walked for a little over an hour in the valley. It was a fun easy hike with plenty of poplars and pistachio trees.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Nearing the end
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

An example of the rock-cut dwellings. Note the pigeon houses.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Kapadokya El Sanatlari Merkezi

We didn’t care much for this stop. I don’t think anyone in our group did. Kapadokya El Sanatlari Merkezi is basically just a large jewelry shop that’s a frequent stop on the Green Tour.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Not sure if these are examples of it, but they make a point to showcase zultanite which is a color-changing gemstone. You may want to read these TripAdvisor reviews though before you buy anything.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Demonstrating how stones are polished.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Snack / Souvenir Shop

Another stop that no one seemed to care for. This was a snack and souvenir shop where we got to sample a few goodies and products, presumably to entice us to buy. They tasted good but seemed overpriced so we didn’t buy anything. I don’t think anyone in our group did.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Pigeon Valley

The last stop on today’s Green Tour — beautiful Pigeon Valley. A valley connecting Uchisar to Göreme, there are many pigeon houses here hence the name. As previously described, farmers used these pigeon houses to collect their droppings which are an excellent natural fertilizer.
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

Like Ihlara, Pigeon Valley is a popular place to go hiking. As one blogger put it, it’s like hiking through Middle Earth. ♥
Discover Cappadocia (Green Tour) with Bridge of the World

The Green Tour is cool though personally, I prefer the Red. It takes you to places that are more uniquely Cappadocia. On top of that, it didn’t have any iffy stops like the jewelry and souvenir shops. If you were to book just one tour in Cappadocia, then I suggest going for the Red Tour. The Green Tour is more expensive as well at 45 Euros per person as opposed to just 35 for the Red.

With that said however, Derinkuyu and Ihlara Valley are interesting stops so it would be a shame not to visit them. Derinkuyu I thought was particularly fascinating. They’re far from Göreme — about an hour each way — making them difficult to get to on your own. If you have the time and funds, then I suggest going for the Green Tour as well.

Like the Red, many agencies offer their version of this tour but I highly recommend Bridge of the World. Apart from these tours, we also booked horseback riding and Turkish Night with them. We were happy with those as well.

Bridge of the World Travel Agency, Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Orta Mah. Uzun Dere Cad. No 5, Göreme 50180, Turkey
Tel: +90 384 271 2004
Website: bridgeoftheworld.com
Twitter: botw_travel
Pinterest: botwtravel
Instagram: bridgeoftheworld
Foursquare: botw-travel-bridge-of-the-world-travel
Email: info@botwtravel.com
Tour Cost: 35 Euros per person (as of Nov 2015)

HOW TO GET THERE:
Bridge of the World travel agency is a short walk from the otogar (bus station) on Uzun Dere Caddesi. If you have Sygic Travel and pocket wifi, then you can use GPS to track it down. If you book this Discover Cappadocia Tour with them, then they’ll arrange to have you picked up from your hotel around 9:30AM.

For more Cappadocia travel tips, check out our First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

JB Macatulad

JB Macatulad

JB is one half of Will Fly for Food and its chief itinerary maker.  He's the one to blame for all the crappy photos and verbal diarrhea on this blog.  Don't listen to him.
JB Macatulad


There are 8 comments for this article
  1. Pingback: Travel News | Mar 01 2016 – Vagabound Diary
  2. JohnL at 1:28 am

    We were there yesterday March 30, 2016). Your review is spot on. One difference. They picked us up at our various hotels, drove us cross-town to an ATM, then demanded TL120 cash each which was only $US43. But not telling us in advance about the cash was a bit odd. Great tour though. I skipped the jewelry thing and took photos outside.

  3. JB Macatulad at 7:07 am

    Hi John, that’s odd. I’m assuming it’s to pay for the tour? In our case, I paid 50% in advance to secure the reservation then paid the rest upon arrival in Goreme. I stopped by their office before any of our tours to pay for the balance. Not sure what the situation was for other members in our group but if I remember correctly, some hadn’t paid in full yet so they settled during or after the tour. $43 sounds like the full price of the Green Tour so I’m assuming you didn’t make a 50% downpayment? In any case, they should have told you about their plans beforehand. Happy to hear that you enjoyed the tour though.

  4. Milet Miranda at 4:51 pm

    Hello JB! What time were you guys picked up at your hotel in this tour? As well as Red tour? Also, what time were you dropped off in the hotel? I only have 2 days in Cappadocia and was thinking of availing these tours. Problem is my flight to Istanbul is at 9:00 PM on my second day and I read that Kayseri Airport is about 90 minutes away from Goreme. TIA! 🙂

  5. JB Macatulad at 7:41 am

    Hi Milet, both tours start around 9:30AM and end at 5PM. It’s cutting it close but you should have enough time to make your 9PM flight if you leave right away. I suggest booking your airport transfer with the same agency as the Red and Green tours so you can express the time urgency to them. Hope that helps and enjoy your trip to Cappadocia! So jealous! 😀

  6. Milet Miranda at 12:42 pm

    Thanks JB! Another question. What time did you arrive in Goreme from Pamukkale by overnight bus? I was thinking of joining the red tour as soon as I arrive in Cappadocia. 🙂

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