Avanos is as romantic as any other town divided by a river. Part of the town between historical stone bridge and romantic wooden bridge is the center. Along the river, center is full of cafes, restaurants, tourism agencies and souvenir shops. Although pottery and ceramics are most common in Avanos the town is also famous for its hand-made carpets and wine.
The town of Avanos is 15 km from Nevşehir. It had Hittite, Phrygian, Assyrian, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman traces throughout the history. It was named as Zu-Winasa by Hittites, Nenansa by the Assyrians and Venessa,which means the city on the river in Latin, by Romans.
When the town was within the territory of Turkish tribe Seljuks they named it Evronos for the honor of their ruler. Later the name evolved into Avanos.
The first people living in Avanos made ceramic objects, pitchers, plates, large jars and other household utensils by using old technique of forming the clay on kick-wheel. They used the original red clay from Kizilırmak beds and white clay from skirts of high hills in area. Red clay is suitable for pottery and white is better for ceramics. Pottery making was very important for pagan civilizations, who believed in multiple deities. Especially for art, wine making, libation, food and beverages transportation and keeping massive amounts of grains safe.
The locals still carry out this ancient tradition and the town is famous for terracotta products. Today around 50 workshops keep this tradition alive in Avanos. If you’re planning visit Avanos you should join one of the pottery workshops to witness thousands of years tradition from the first hand. You may even test your skills and develop a new hobby.
Güray Families is one of the oldest potters of Avanos. And they founded a unique Underground Ceramic Museum (Güray Museum). It’s a mysterious atmosphere, carved in rocks 20 meters under the ground. The museum consists of two main sections: ancient ceramic art works, the works of contemporary and modern ceramic artists.
Apart from these halls where events such as concerts and cocktails take place at different times, Güray Museum is valid in the form of an exhibition hall, library and cafe.
In addition, carpet weaving, visiting Ozkonak underground city and other similar activities make this centre of tourism quite interesting.
Most common night activity in Avanos is Turkish night shows, where Turkish cuisine is served with local wines, beer and raki, accompanied by examples from Anatolian folkloric and belly dance. Not need to mention that these shows take place in carved rock restaurants.
Well, i can’t stop myself mentioning here about one of the weirdest museums in the world you can visit. Hair Museum. According to some rumours it’s a love story but some others say it’s a promise of coming back. A French visitor promising another visit leaves a small piece of her hair and they pin it to the wall of workshop with a note where she wrote her promise. By time this turns into a tradition and all the women visiting workshop keeps pinning their hair and notes. Today no one knows who many pins are there on the wall but the museum is worth visiting if you have time.
Workshop also orginizes a lottery every year. Two lucky hair is winning a free visit to Cappadocia sponsored by museum. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the star of next year.
Pottery town has much more to offer. Here are the areas you must visit to complete your Avanos excursion in Cappadocia.
You can easily reach Cavusin village by taking the Nevsehir – Ürgüp road for 3 to 4 km. It’s 10 km away from Uchisar and 5 to 10 minutes to Göreme. This village is famous for the Christian priests houses and churches, mainly built between the first and the 10th centuries.
Some of the churches are in the vicinities of Rose Valley (Güllüdere) and Red Valley (Kizilcukur ). Many are used as dovecotes by the locals. One of the most important and interesting places is the “basilica’ type church carved out on the steep cliff face.
This church is dedicated to St John the Baptist. Although the facade of the church has collapsed due to erosion, the decorated column in the church can still be seen today. Another church called the ‘Pigeon House’, is located on the way out of the village in the direction of Avanos. The narthex of this church has also collapsed and some of the frescoes have been buried.
The main part of the church can be accessed through a new iron staircase. There are no supporting columns in the church and the ceiling is barrel-vaulted. There are 5 apsis; a large one in the middle and two smaller ones on the sides. Most of the scenes in the church are from the life of Jesus and word of the Gospels. The dominant colors are brown and green. Next to the church is a monastery with 4 graves.
It is located 1 km off the Zelve turn on the Göreme-Avanos road. The tallest fairy chimneys, some multi-coned, attract many Turkish and foreign tourists here. You may hear of it as Monks Valley, too.
Pasabagları and the Love Valley are places where very different and tall fairy chimneys are. At Pasabagları, hollowed out into the triple-coned fairy chimney are two rooms, one of which was used as a seclusion room by the 8th century hermit St Simeon. Once the area belonged to a person known as Pasha, so this place with vineyards is called ‘Pasha’s vineyard.
Love Valley is 4 km long and located to the north of the town of Avcilar, Göreme. Since the valley has many fairy chimneys as if sprung up out of the ground and the only sound here is of the chirping birds, it is called the Love valley.
Turning right at the 3rd km of the Göreme – Avanos road, passing by Pasabaglari you’ll find some interesting fairy chimneys in another place of interest in the area, the old Zelve village.
Some of the most beautiful and exotic fairy chimneys of Cappadocia region are here, especially in the Paşabağ area. The fairy chimneys here, 15 – 20 m in height, are in groups and some are triple-coned.
There are churches and monasteries from the iconoclastic period in Old Zelve. The monasteries here were hiding places for the Christians. Like some other villages and the old Zelve village bears evidence that the Christians and Muslims lived together in peace. After the Christians left this village, the Turks lived here for a while. In 1950 Turks also abandoned the village due to serious erosion and earthquake. And than they moved to a new village a couple of kilometers from Zelve. Later, the Old village of Zelve was opened to public as a museum and has become a popular place among the Turkish and foreign tourists.
There is a night light mapping show over fairy chimneys in open air museum. It’s another interesting and fantastic activity you must join in Zelve.
Underground cities of Cappadocia are the most interesting places to see in Cappadocia. There are many examples of underground cities from 3 floors to 8 floors deep. Ozkonak is one of them in Avanos.
Softer rock formation of Cappadocia made living possible both on and under the ground. People of Cappadocia had created massive citites underground some of which had capacity of 15.000 people. They ate, slept, prayed, cooked, hid, survived there.
Here you can read my article about undeground cities in Cappadocia to have a better idea of life conditions or how to survive in underground cities.