I’m sitting, right now, in the courtyard in front of my room at the Yunak Evleri, a “cave hotel” in Ürgüp, Cappadocia, Turkey. It’s nighttime, the stars are out in majestic force, the breeze is cool, and it really doesn’t get much better than this.
Seriously. Take a look at the place.
We flew this morning from Istanbul to Kayseri, very near the center of Turkey. It’s the home city of Basil of Caesarea (Kayseri is the Turkish form of the ancient name), who, with his younger brother, Gregory of Nyssa, and his friend, Gregory of Nazianzus, is generally classed as one of the Cappadocian Fathers. Kayseri is a clean and modern city of about a million, situated near the foot of a large dormant volcano. The high Anatolian plain around it looks rather like the Great Basin of the United States, like certain portions of southern Utah (without the red rocks, perhaps around Beaver or Fillmore) or maybe northern Nevada in some places.
We had an excellent and very large lunch in Kayseri, with delicious traditional local cuisine, and then drove over to Cappadocia, which can, at times, seem positively interplanetary, so strange is its landscape.
We hiked a little bit around Zelve (see above), looking at the ancient monastic cells carved into the volcanic tufa of the region and talking about the rise of asceticism and monasticism in the ancient Christian church.
Then we came to our hotel. There’s a Doubletree here, like the one in Istanbul. But, in planning this portion of the trip, my wife and I simply couldn’t resist the idea of staying in an ancient monastic cave. Fortunately, the group seems to like the place, which is, from my point of view, irresistibly romantic.
We had dinner on an outdoor terrace, overlooking the town. The last of the daily calls to Muslim prayer sounded while we were eating and echoed off of the natural rock amphitheater into which our hotel is carved. The ancient monks would have found the adhan (“I testify that there is no god but God; I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God”) alien and threatening but not altogether incomprehensible, theologically; the area has certainly been transformed, religiously speaking, since the heyday of Cappadocian Trinitarianism.
I need to do a little catching up in this blog. I’m three days or so behind, and was hoping to take care of at least one of those days tonight. But I’m suddenly really tired again, and think I’ll put it off until . . . mañana. Yes. That’s it. Tomorrow. Things are always easier tomorrow.
Posted from Ürgüp, in Cappadocia, Turkey.