Near Uchisar is a valley that has become quite popular with hikers. It is known by many names (Valley of the Pigeon Lofts, Dovecote Valley, Pigeon Valley) but they all refer to the thousands of pigeon houses that have been carved into the soft tufa since ancient times. Although they can be found throughout Cappadocia, they are especially plentiful in this valley which must have one of the greatest collections of pigeon lofts in the world. They were carved wherever space allowed including abandoned caves and the walls of collapsed churches. They lack the architectural interest of the doocots of Scotland or the elaborate Persian pigeon towers but their sheer numbers are astonishing. In Cappadocia, pigeons have long been a source of food and fertilizer. The advent of chemical fertilizers has reduced the use of pigeon fertilizer. However, some farmers still maintain their lofts because they insist that the reputation of Cappadocian fruits as the sweetest and most succulent in Turkey is entirely due to the pigeons’ droppings.
Churches and Monasteries in Cappadocia
The rock cut churches and monasteries were developed by the Christians from the cave dwellings and they are also situated deep underground. These excavations have reached down to about 85 meters, or until the water level has been reached, and are marked with efficient ventilation systems. There are many settlements in Cappadocia that were established primarily as ascetic communities following the rules mentioned by Bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in the 4th century, St. Basil the Great.
Goreme Valley is famous for its churches and these churches followed the rules laid down by St. Basil the Great. In fact it was under his guidance that the first churches of Goreme Valley were built. Presently the Goreme Valley with its numerous small communities having their own churches forming large monastic complex serves the purpose of the Open Air Museum.
The most striking monastery in Cappadocia is the Eskigumus Monastery, its main church is roomy and well ventilated, but the main point of interest lies in its well-preserved frescoes that are considered the best representative of Byzantine art in all of Cappadocia.