Avanos is a small town of Cappadocian artisans, known for its ancient pottery traditions and proximity to one of the most famous sights of Cappadocia – the rocky town of Zelva.
The old town of Avanos is located eighteen kilometers north-east of Nevsehir near the Kyzyl-Irmak Valley (Red River) – the longest river in Turkey (1,151 km). The name of the river is explained by the color of the water in this section of its flow. This is due to the fact that its bed is rich in iron ore and red clay, from which all Avanos ceramics is made. The Hittites called this river Marassantia – it was the boundary of their empire, and in the Hellenistic era it was called Halis. In Hittite times, the city itself was born, then served as a frontier outpost and a major trading center, famous for its potters.
Because of the loose clay soil, there are no cave churches or stone mushrooms in Avanos. But it occupies an advantageous strategic position in the central part of Cappadocia – to Zelve (6 km), Chavushin (6 km) and, if desired, you can walk to Göreme (10 km), and to Ozkonak by local bus (25 km).
The city of Avanos has a rather ancient history: the found settlements of people in these neighborhoods date back to the Bronze Age, as evidenced by the excavations of Toprakly, an ancient burial ground. Avanos is famous for its clay products, manufactured here in the 3 millennium BC, even after many centuries.
Despite the fact that the numerous Greek, Ottoman and Armenian buildings of Avanos and the picturesque cozy streets of the old quarters are interesting enough in themselves, the pottery made by potters is a real local attraction of this city.
The local craftsmen make beautiful pottery, which is decorated with geometric patterns and floral ornaments. This ornament can be found in carpets, traditionally made in Avanos. Carpets are produced not only by workshops, but also by some local women who weave them at home, while using woolen and silk threads. Craftswomen with incredible patience pull these threads into knots, and then weave them on home-made wooden machines.
These locally made products can often be seen on the streets of the city against the backdrop of houses of Muslim-typical architecture, old buildings of tuff blocks, on the facades of which there was often an open loggia. On the main square of Avanos stands a monument depicting a potter, next to which women work at the loom. Every year a festival is held in the city, where city masters are honored and the best pottery samples are exhibited. At the festival you can hear folk songs and music, as well as see dances in traditional costumes.
A large number of tiny workshops scattered through the picturesque old quarters, where you can buy dishes made using technology that was used fifteen centuries ago. It should be noted that the masters work under natural light, the dishes are dried only in the open air. After several days of drying in the sun, the dishes are roasted in a furnace for ten hours at a temperature of about 950-1200 ° C.
This town is mentioned in recent years, mainly due to the unique hair museum created by Chaz Galip, a skilled Turkish potter, who is rightly considered one of the strangest museums in the world. Under the workshop of Galip there is an unusual exhibition consisting of hair of about sixteen thousand girls and women. The ceiling, walls and other surfaces, except for the floor, are covered with curls of hair that previously belonged to various representatives of the fair sex who once visited this place and pieces of paper with their addresses. It all began about thirty years ago under such circumstances. Galip’s girlfriend was leaving Avanos, and he was very upset about parting with her. So that he was not very sad, she cut off and left him a lock of hair to remember him. Over the years, the potter has collected a large collection of curls and addresses of women from around the world.
Twice a year, in December and June, the first visitor who came to this shop is invited down to select ten so-called “wall winners”. These lucky girls get a weekly fully paid tour of Cappadocia, and they also have the right to try to make something on their own in the workshop of Chez Galip. In this way, the potter thanks the women who help him to create this amazing museum, which is visited daily by new tourists. Entrance to the museum is free. Nobody obliges women to sacrifice hair, but if one of them wants to do this, Galyp always has scissors, a pen, paper, tape and pins on hand.
On the north side, above the central part of Avanos, hangs a long precipice, above which is a large terrace occupied by fields and a cemetery. To find an exit to it from the city building will have to work hard, but it is worth it, since you get to the most spectacular place of Avanos. Especially beautiful landscapes open from there at sunset. The southward view of the mountains on the other side of the vast Kyzyl-Irmak valley is undoubtedly worth it to climb.