I started this entry almost a week ago, but I did not finish it because I've been traveling through Cappadocia and was staying at a hotel without wi-fi. I want to share these pictures with you, so I'll write little and simply post them.
During the first part of the week I was in Göreme, a town not far from Ortahisar. Göreme is bigger and a bit more touristy. It seems to be a backpacker's haven. During the two nights I was there the hotel was packed with several groups of Spanish trekkers. I stayed in a Cave Hotel, that is, a structure that had been originally carved out of one of the soft rock hills that dot this area, like the dwellings that early Christians carved for themselves in order to flee invading Arabs. I visited one such cave city and the Open Air Museum. In the immediate area of these two towns alone there are over 100 churches; the one at the Open Air Museum has gorgeous frescos (better preserved, of course, because they're in caves).
The Fortress in Ortahisar: This is what I saw from my cave room. It's an impressive huge rock rising out of a rubbled-filled valley with radiating winding roads. The carved dwellings in each of the visible openings have been long abandoned; today you can climb the Fortress up a series of long stairs and from the top you can see a panoramic view of the town of Ortahisar and beyond. In the center of the village there are many coffee houses; once a week there's a local produce market that is very colorful.
All of Cappadocia is extremely beautiful and surreal. The rock formations and colors are indeed uniquely exquisite. Above you see two of the Three Beauties (called "chimney" or "mushroom" rocks), the iconic symbol of Turkey that appears in the 50 lira bill. Together, the three represent a family. The smaller of the three, the one you can't see clearly in this picture, is the child.
These next several pictures are from the Outdoor Museum and surrounding area. I find it joyful to see that in a very parched land colorful flowers still grow. (Well, because this is volcanic rock the area is in fact very fecund: fruit threes and vineyards are plentiful.) I will write more later.