Today, we had a wonderful time riding to various spots amid the bizarre rock formations of Cappadocia, Turkey. I rode a horse name Incion, a 9 year old white Arabian, who was a joy to ride and much calmer than I had thought that an Arabian might be. Ahmet of Kirkit Voyage rode a eleven-year-old mostly Arabian horse named Avanos, named after the area town, and Hasan rode a five-year-old palomino Barb Arabian mix named Aeysuna. We rode on saddles that Ahmet got in Kyrgyzstan. The saddles have comfortable sheepskin seats, which I really appreciated after being in the saddle all day. Ahmet runs 7, 9, 15 and custom riding tours of Cappadocia and sometimes the lesser visited Black Sea area of Turkey. On those tours, you really want a comfortable saddle.
Our first stop was Dereyamanli Valley, where fairy chimneys abound, with a visit to Yamanli Church, a 6th century Christian church. The church was interesting inside. Like many of the churches and homes in Cappadocia, it is carved out of a rock.
Centuries ago in Turkey, when early Christians were being persecuted, they hid their churches and themselves inside these rock establishments, concealing doors or putting entryways in hard to discover places. There are underground cities built by the Christians throughout Cappadocia and many hidden churches. Cappadocia’s unique geological formations allowed the Christians to live and hide this way. Inside the church, Ahmet pointed out a Byzantine cross carved into the wall. The church is unique as it is the only Christian church in the area with services every Sunday that are open to the public.
Riding through Dereyamanli Valley, I noticed a lot of small vineyards. In Cappadocia, a lot of people have their own little vineyard. The soil is fertile from the area volcanic activity, making it a good place to grow grapes. We met an old woman working her vineyard as we rode amid the rocks. Her vineyard was like a secret enclave, hidden amid the rocks and definitely, like many places in Cappadocia, best reached on horseback.