Urgup

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Urgup is characterized by a conglomeration of rock formations, early Christian dwellings, and old Greek mansions. Tourists will appreciate the town’s organized information network, central otogar, and proximity to noteworthy villages and points of interest. With fewer pensions and neo-hippies than Göreme, Urgup appeals to independent travelers who tirelessly flee the commotion of tourism.

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TRANSPORTATION

Buses: English-speaking Aydın Altan of Nevtur (341 43 02) will answer bus-related questions. To: Adana (5hr., 3 per day 8am-3pm, $8); Alanya (14hr., 4 per day 6-10pm, $18); Ankara (5hr., 5 per day 7am-5:30pm, $8); Antalya (11hr., 3 per day 6-8pm, $15); Bodrum (14hr., 7pm, $19); Eskişehir (8hr., 7pm, $11); Fethiye (15hr., 3 per day 6-8pm, $19); İstanbul (12hr., 4 per day 6-8pm, $16); İzmir (12hr., 6:30pm, $16); Konya (4hr., 6 per day 8am-7pm, $6); Kuşadası (13hr.; 6:30, 7:30pm; $18); Marmaris (15hr., 7pm, $19); Mersin (5hr., 3 per day 8am-3pm, $8); Pamukkale (10hr., 7pm, $15); Side (13hr.; 7, 8pm; $15); Selçuk (13hr., 6:30pm, $18).

Rental Agencies: Several are near the otogar. Bikes $5-10 per day; mopeds $15-20 per day; cars from $30 per day. Roads are reasonably tame and organized in this area, though only skilled stick-handlers will be able to conquer the hills without stalling. Alternatively, horses ($10 per day) and donkeys ($8 per day), available in the alley behind Europcar, do come with automatic transmission at no extra charge (341 38 90).

ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION     

The main square, marked by a hamam and an Atatürk statue, is 20m up Güllüce Cad. from the otogar. This road forks uphill into two smaller roads, both near accommodations. Intersecting Güllüce Cad. in the main square is Kayseri Cad.

  • Hamam: Tarihi Şehir Hamamı (341 22 41), at the fork in the main square. Co-ed, so bring a friend to this steamy one-room complex. Complete bath with massage (male masseur), kese (exfoliating scrub), and sauna. $8 per person. Open daily 7am-llpm.
  • Pharmacies: There are several near the otogar; walk toward the hamam and Eczane Urgup (341 44 52) is on the left, sandwiched between carpet shops.
  • Medical Assistance: Call the hospital (341 40 31), off Kayseri Cad. just behind Tourist Information. The Cappadocia Health Center, 28 Dumlupinar Cad. (341 54 27 or 341 54 28; fax 341 34 92), offers more private, out-patient clinical care.
  • PTT: (341 80 12), Turn right out of the tourist office and take the first right uphill. Open daily 8:30am-7pm; in winter 8am-5pm. Offers telephone services, stamps, fax, tele¬graph, and a currency exchange that’s closed noon 1:30pm.

Postal Code: 50400.

ACCOMMODATION

Urgup’s hotels and pensions display a range of prices and quality. In general, the standard pensions here cost a little more than in Göreme, where fierce competition has kept prices very budget-friendly.

  1. Hotel Kemer, (341 21 68; fax 341 85 16), across the street from Hotel Elvan, offers clean, basic rooms with shower and towels. The closest pension to the center of town. $9 per person.
  2. Hotel Surban (341 47 61 or 341 46 03; fax 341 32 23). Fork right at the hamam and trudge up the steep hill. Spacious, kilimed lounge and bar, parking space, cave restaurant, and ping-pong table make Surban ideal for groups, and lots of fun. Rooms with private bath and towels. Singles $15; doubles $25; triples $30.
  3. Hotel Elvan, İstiklâl Cad., 11 Barbaros Hayrettin Sok. (341 41 91; fax 341 34 55), downhill from Hotel Akuzun, to the left off the hamam. Maternal Fatma Hamm will boil medicinal teas for her Western guests’ weak stomachs. Tidy rooms with private baths. Singles $14; doubles $25; triples $30. MC/V.
  4. Hotel Asia Minor (341 46 45; fax 341 27 21), 50m up the street from Kemer Hotel. A beautiful 150- year-old Greek mansion with an attractive breakfast garden, and frescoes adorning lobby walls. Breakfast included. All rooms $25-$40.
  5. Elkep Evi (341 60 00). Up the road from Hotel Born, past the Turasan Winery, there are several small and very luxurious cave pensions called evis (houses). Elkep Evi is the cheapest of these, offering beautifully furnished cave rooms, appropriate for 2 or 3 guests each, with immaculate, white down comforters and comfortable western-style baths. $50 per room.
  6. Türkerler Otel, Camping and Swimming Pool (341 33 54). Fork right at the mosque, climb up the hill and steer left at the next fork. Pitch a tent for a couple of bucks on the environs of this tiny pension. Call ahead to check if the swimming pool is in fact filled, and cut a price with the laid-back owners (Turkish business at its best). If camping’s lost its novelty, patrons can check into the on-grounds hotel or pension.
  7. Hotel Born, On the way up the hill to Hotel Suburban, Hotel Born is Urgüp’s cheapest pension. While the price is certainly right, the old hotel is decidedly lacking in cleanliness and amenities. $3-4 per person.

 

FOOD   

  • Han Çırağan (341 25 66), across the street and to the right of the Atatürk statue. Heavy with Turkish spirit, this restaurant is in a 300-year-old kervansaray whose rooms are still used by merchants in horse-drawn carriages. Try the filling Han Çırağan special of döner with cheese, mushroom, carrots, and peppers ($4).
  • Şömine Cafe (341 84 42; fax 341 84 43), in the center of the town square, on the second level across the Atatürk statue. With a multilingual menu and professional service, Şömine caters largely to the tourist scene. Try the house specialty, testi kebap, a dish of lamb, tomatoes, onions, and garlic roasted in a clay pot. After 6 hours, the pot is broken to reveal a delicious meal for two ($8). Other entrees $2-4.
  • Asia Teras (341 38 39), 20m to the left when exiting the tourist office. Billiards ($2 per hr.) and Internet access ($2.50 per hr.), along with mediocre American food (burgers $1-1.50). Beer $1; rakı $2. Open daily 10am-midnight.  Mikro Restaurant (341 20 68; fax 341 32 39). A local favorite, serving unbeatable Turkish food, with main courses running about $4. Lucky patrons will catch mantı night, when the home-cooked Turkish ravioli leaves everybody smiling.

ENTERTAINMENT

Cappadocia is one of Turkey’s largest wine-producing regions, with Urgup as its capital. Uphill from Hotel Surban, the renowned Turasan Winery supplies 60% of Cappadocia’s wines and offers free tours and tastings in its rock-carved wine cellar. Buy cheap wine here (most bottles $2.50-4) or splurge on the more robust ’89 vintage for $7.50 or the extra-special ’97 Kalecik Karası for $15. (Open 8am-8pm. Tours available until 5pm.) Other shops around the main square offer free tastings. In late September, the Urgup wine festival brings competitors from France, Italy, Argentina, and the US. If you’re still energized after a day of boozing and trooping through Urgup’s narrow cobblestone streets, put on your dancing shoes.

Kaya Bar (235 13 57), Urgup’s most relaxed bar. Overlooks the town square from the second floor of the large Sukurogullari pastry shop. With either live local music or chill Turkish and American tunes, in addition to an upstairs room with kilims, couches, a terrace and a circulating water pipe, folks come to Kaya to hang out and chat. Big with backpackers and some younger locals. Beer $1.50, rakı $2.

Prokopi Pub Bar (341 64 98), next to Han Çırağan restaurant. Popular with tourists and wealthier locals, this ultra-hip bar plays electrónica, dance beats, and American and Brit pop. Dance floor for the inspired or intoxicated. Beer $2.50; rakı $3; mixed drinks $4-6. Open until the party dies, usually around 3am.

Bar Barium (341 41 98), in the same building as Han Çırağan restaurant. Don’t let the strange selection of band posters fool you, this red-lit cave bar plays a solid mix of Turkish and American tunes. Just as happening’ as Prokopi but less taxing on your wallet. Beer $1.50; mixed drinks and rakı $2.

 

DAYTRIP FROM URGUP: SOGANLI           

Getting to the valley on your own isn’t easy: a taxi may cost up to $50 and tour companies, which are only marginally cheaper, don’t spend much time here. Public transportation only goes to Mustafapaşa. The cheapest way to visit Soğanlı is to rent a scooter ($20, an additional $2.50 for gas) in Urgup and brave the Turkish roads armed with nothing but a crash helmet. Valley open daily 8:30am-5:30pm. $1.

About, 40km south of Urgup, the Soğanlı Valley is one of the few places in Cappadocia where beauty remains untarnished by tourism. Thanks to its remote location, you can probably have the place to yourself.

About 150 stone churches sit in the valley, although most have been filled in, destroyed, or converted into birdhouses. The five major churches, all dating from the pre-Ottoman area, are decorated with aged and desecrated frescoes which have not been granted Göreme-style renovations. The Geyikli Kilise (Church of the Deer) is at the intersection of the valley’s branches. Heading right leads to the Karabaş Kilise (Dark Church), notable for the darkened halos that hover over the saints. Down the road is the Yılanı Kilise (Snake Church) which has a fresco depicting St. George slaying the dragon. Above the stream, Kubbeli Kilise (Domed Church), the largest and most impressive church in the valley, is distinguished by the only rock- carved dome in Cappadocia. The Tahtalı Kilise (Wooden Church), at the end of the left valley road, is accessible by a narrow set of stone steps; inside one can just make out a fresco of Christ’s descent into hell. Taking cither of the two paths through the valley allows you to make a complete circuit in an hour.

Pleasant stops between Urgup and Soğanlı include Damsa Dam, 5km beyond Mustafapaşa, the only beach environment you’re likely to find in cutral Anatolia ($.25 per person, $.60 per car). Further down the road, near (emil, the Keşllk Monastery contains a blackened church, a refectory, and a monastery ($.60).

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