The deserted, rock-cut village now called Açıksaray (Open Palace) is a fascinating place to explore, in my opinion one of the more interesting and relaxing in Cappadocia, and made more so by the small number of visitors. When we were there in October, we found probably about eight people besides ourselves in the entire site. The village, just outside the Turkish town of Gülşehir, dates to the 10th or 11th century and covers about a square kilometer, containing chapels, kitchens, mushroom-shaped rock formations, and dwellings, probably for monks. This is the facade of the largest complex.
This is one of my favorite sights to see in Turkey. Driving along the Mediterranean coast, your car passes tomato-growing greenhouses before arriving at the tiny village of Patara. On the other side of the village, grassy fields and hills emerge, broken only by a few pillars, cows, and the odd amphitheater. Driving up the dirt path towards the ruins, my wife was stopped by an older village woman in the traditional headscarf. Julie rolled down her window. “Have you seen my goat?” asked the woman. “I lost him right around here.”
Continuing on a few hundred meters down the road brings a sandy parking lot into sight. Walk towards the sand and you will discover a 20-kilometer stretch of white sand that is also a nesting site for – what else – loggerhead sea turtles.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, f/22, 1/20 sec.
Turkish Anatolia today is almost entirely Muslim, but it wasn’t always that way. This Byzantine era cave cell dates from a time when Eastern Orthodox monasteries dotted the central and eastern Anatolian plateau. In Göreme and other parts of Cappadocia, the soft volcanic rock allowed dozens of churches, bedrooms, stables and kitchens to be dug into the mountainsides. Many of these were decorated with frescoes that have been well preserved by the cool, dark cave air.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-100, f/10, 1/40 sec.
Hidden for years under the streets of Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet district, the waters of the Basilica Cistern lapped undisturbed against the base of Corinthian marble columns. This Byzantine-era engineering feat was lost to public knowledge when the city was taken over by the Ottoman Turks, and remained unknown until citizens of the modern Turkish republic reported catching fish through holes in their basements. That was just a few decades ago; today carp still swim through the water at the base of the pillars.
This scene was pretty difficult to photograph because there is very low light underground in the cistern, and tripods are not allowed. Still, I wanted a DOF that would bring all the columns into focus. In the end, I balanced the camera on top of a railing, underexposed by maybe half a stop to match the actual lighting, and set the self-timer for a 20 second exposure. Fortunately, there weren’t too many people around to shake the railing. I got really ambitious after that and tried to bracket three exposures for an HDR image, but that didn’t work out so well.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-400, Tv=20 sec., f/13.0