So now we begin the last leg of our journey to Turkey. This part of our trip is in Cappadocia, a region in Turkey that is rich in human history as it is in land topography. I dare say that this place in Turkey is the most exciting, most intense and most beautiful I have ever seen. It is filled with the most natural whimsical sights (this whole place looks like it has been plucked out of a fairytale) and set down on the massive Anatolian plains dotted with tall, honeycomed hills, towering boulders of rock formations and cave-like dwellings.
Our journey to this place is nothing but short of amazing, which made me wonder how am I even going to begin my story… which is probably the reason why it took me a while to write this part of my Turkey post!
My photos here are a-plenty but well-curated to help you see and understand better what it is I felt when I was right here. (And yes, I still can’t believe that all these happened just last month.)
The Museum Hotel is meticulously restored and renovated from ruins, caves, and houses to become the first luxury hotel in Cappadocia. It is Turkey’s only Relais & Châteaux member and has won a number of internationally recognized and prestigious awards in the industry.
The Museum Hotel is a very unique hotel as it is situated in a very special geographic region in Cappadocia.
Steeped in thousands of years of history, there is a magical feel to the hotel. This is the view from the hotel’s poolside balcony! Can you see the amazing land of Cappadocia that surrounds this hotel?
Their unusual ‘living museum’ concept means that our cave rooms (yes, the hotel is a real cave used from thousands of years ago as such!) are all decorated with priceless antiques.
The Museum Hotel has only 30 bedrooms and this is one of them.
And this water fountain is part of the bedroom too!
This is how the Museum Hotel looks from afar at night. From this point of view, one can tell that it is really a cave (and it has been used as such from time immemorial!)
As we spent more time in the hotel, we noticed that we were in fact in a real, living museum. The hotel’s owner, Mr. Tosun, planned for his guests to live within the splendor and surroundings of history.
So yes I can say that for once in my life, I experienced living inside a cave and a museum in one!
The Whirling Dervishes
The Whirling Dervishes is a unique experience that many come to Turkey wanting to see. It is an amazing performance to witness, one that is quite hard to forget.
This performance we saw was held in a caravanserai (a caravan palace) of Cappadocia. This is a huge building fortress built of hewn volcanic stones with walls thick and high. This building was used in the medieval times (as early as the 10th century) as a safe inn for the merchants who come to this part of Turkey to trade.
This place is no ordinary auditorium for sure. Inside, it made me feel I was in a tall, deep, and dark dungeon!
And then I felt even more strange when the Whirling Dervishes started to dance…
The Sema (Whirling Dervishes Ceremony) is the inspiration of the great Rumi, a 13th-century poet, Islamic scholar, theologian, and mystic. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages thus he has been described as the “most popular poet among the Muslims.”
This Whirling Dervishes Ceremony, therefore, has been one of Rumi’s legacies which is now considered very much a part of the Turkish culture, belief, and history. The Ceremony symbolizes the different meanings of a “mystic cycle to perfection.”
Contemporary science confirms that the fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve. There is no object, no being, which does not revolve.
“Every thing whirls and man, a whirling dervish, carries on his life, his very existence by means of the revolution in the atoms, structural elements in his body, by the circulation of his blood, by his coming from the Earth and return to it, by his revolving with the Earth itself.”
Watch the video and see for yourself:[iframe id=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/wYwJrE8-BMk”]
I must admit it felt a little bit odd and creepy to see this endless twirling in front of me! I was taken by surprise to see how capable these performers are in falling into a deep trance while whirling and twirling. But because I have been briefed about the history and meaning behind this ritual (which is primarily based on their religion and culture), I then understood and appreciated the “strangeness” of it all.
“The Whirling Dervishes represents a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through love, finding the truth and arriving to the “Perfect”. Then he returns from this spiritual journeys as a man who reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole creation, to all creatures without discriminating in regard to belief, class, or race.” –Rumi
And now to dinner in this very old part of Cappadocia…
We went to the highly recommended restaurant called Seki Restaurant located inside the boutique hotel Argos, which is right in the heart of Cappadocia. It stands on the site of an ancient monastery in the Old Uçhisar Village. This restaurant is a beautifully restored remain of an underground tunnel from a cave. More than the history and unique structure of this place, Seki served us some of the most delicious Turkish dishes we’ve ever had in this trip.
And this was our view right outside the restaurant: another hotel inside a cave in the area. This tells you that almost every place here is either a cave or a tunnel!
Since Cappadocia is filled with ruins, caves and tunnels, their city government not only makes sure that everything is beautifully restored, but also enforces that everything should be well illuminated even at night.
The beautiful Cappadocia captured in a photo at night. No wonder this place has always been described as truly magical.
Back to the Museum Hotel
The breakfast spread at the Museum Hotel was one of the things I looked forward to every morning.
The highlight of the spread is this special Turkish Pancake called Gözleme, made of hand-rolled dough, lightly brushed with butter and eggs, then filled with various meats like minced lamb, sausages, eggs, and cheese.
Once the pancake is sealed, it is cooked over a hot griddle and served fresh and hot!
My favorite fillings were the lamb sausage, spinach, tomatoes, and feta cheese! This is definitely one of my food highlights here in Cappadocia.
And as always, I ended the meal with a cup of my favorite dark and bold Turkish Coffee and that sweet little cube of pastry called Turkish Delight, that they serve in their finest silver.
Of course a trip is not complete without some shopping! There are many places here in Cappadocia that sell Turkish Ceramics, but we went to one that is not just a ceramic store but a ceramic museum as well. This place called Güray Müze is in fact, the world’s first underground ceramic pottery museum.
This nice man helped us understand how the whole process of ceramic making is done from start to finish.
And then he led us to this roomful of beautiful Turkish ceramic plates! For someone like me who’s been collecting pieces for entertaining at home, it was truly a piece of heaven for me!
Then we saw this room with this potter creating some jars out of clay. I was able to try this myself too and realised that pottery making ain’t easy!
And soon afterwards, we were back to our hotel, back to this history-rich place with this grand majestic view, and this was right outside the bedrooms.
We have more to share about this magical land… Stay tuned for the rest of our stay in Cappadocia!
Read about my entire Turkey trip:
Also, read about my Favorite Things from Turkey.