Willemijn and I were in Urgup today to run a few errands – after taking the bike in to have a flat fixed, we had tea at a café in the square and then were encouraged to come in to a newly opened spice emporium where the shopkeeper plied us with dried fruit and more tea while I translated the Turkish names for various products into English – cranberries, cumin, poppyseed, seasame, etc.
Willemijn was kind enough to show me Kayakapi (Stone Gate), the oldest part of the city, currently an archeological site off limits to visitors where the old buildings are in the process of being preserved. The caretaker allowed us in and gave us a guided tour of the site, the oldest part of which dates from the first few centuries of the Christian era. He was a very chatty man, and seemed very happy to show us around, regaling Willemijn in Turkish with tales about the buildings which she then translated for me. He actually lives in part of the stone fortress with his two doggies.
We saw the beautifully restored Kaya Kilise (Church), the Seljuk-era (1300s) hamam, with its subterranean network of waterways, the house of a very wealthy family, cliff dwellings and a mosque. The wealthy family’s house was beautiful and enormous, with many rooms to hold the animals of both the family and any visitors. He pointed out the many feeding troughs for the animals (large room, large troughs for horses and camels; small room, small troughs for sheep and goats – my cave room still has these little troughs in it!), the leg hold holes in the floor for restraining camels, and the animal keeper’s sleeping area. This animal keeper apparently had the gift of sight and prophecy and after he died, his bones were kept in the sleeping area and worshipped until quite recently by visiting Orthodox believers from Greece and Russia. Mr. Caretaker, having been the foreman of a 50 man cleaning crew here, actually knew how many truck loads of dirt were taken out of the houses – 4,726. When the area was attacked by outsiders, those who lived in the cliff dwellings could close off their houses by building fires in rock-cut wall indents to prevent entry.
The families who lived in these houses were all removed by 1984 to new homes in downtown Urgup and work has been going on at the site sporadically since then. It was fascinating to see, much larger and richer than the similar vintage stone and cave homes in Ibrahimpasa, and sited, like here, on grass covered cliffs, except the cliffs in Urgup are much more extensive and higher.
See pictures here.
Read more about Kayakapi here.
Note: Turks are very, very talkative and sociable – well, the men that I’ve come across anyway … don’t see too many women. When they talk to Willemijn, to me they seem like they’ve been starved for conversation for years; the words come rushing out non-stop as if she were the first person they’ve talked to in a very long time. W says that’s just the culture and that, if a Turk likes you, you’re in for lots of words!