A small town 9 km away from Goreme, Avanos is essentially a pottery town picturesque, cobbled and easy to negotiate, on the banks of Red River (Kızılırmak), Turkey’s longest river. Surrounded with many touristic attractions (such as Zelve, Çavuşin Church and many others), this little town has, for more reasons than one, established itself on the world touristic map – not to mention a place on the “weird places to visit” list.
All because of the HAIR MUSEUM.
Chez Galips Hair Museum has a Guinness Record and is also high on the list of “weird” things to see in the world. My own experiences at the hair museum were nothing short of mesmerizing (and a little spooky if you please) – for it is not everyday you find yourself crawling through the caves with hair appearing out of the walls!
My desire to experience something strange took me to Galip’s cave – and after first having tea that the “managers” of the pottery-store cum museum insisted on, I was taken into the cave. First we passed through “cave rooms” with filled beautiful pottery – then the guy stopped at a very narrow entrance to what seemed like the way to a dimly lit interrogation chamber and signaled me upwards. It was bad enough that a visit to the Derinkuyu underground city had proved I suffered from claustrophobia I didn’t I had, but to find myself facing a narrow opening in a cave once again was freaking me out.
But I marched ahead – eager to become an “immortal” part of the hair-donating brigade that before me had braved the narrow cave openings to enter into the hairy and dank interiors of Galip’s museum.
There was hair everywhere – pale yellow light from the low-watt bulbs made it look spookier somehow – it was also cold inside. Photography is not encouraged inside for obvious reasons. Thousands of women who have “donated” a lock of their hair, leave behind addresses on a slip of paper on which the hair is stuck before being placed on the wall, earthen pot – or whatever has any place left. The only way I could get a pic of myself “donating” hair was after agreeing to buy pottery, chat with them about India and drink some more sweetened tea. But in the end I managed.
Pottery making is the main activity in town, with the ceramic trade keeping the economy on the spin – it is believed that many of the pottery factories date back to the Hittities and the ceramic clay used in this craft is the red silt from the Red River.
There is a unsteady bridge over the Red River and it fun to walk over it to the other side which ends in a park.
Entry into the museum is free. Buses to Avanos are available from Goreme/Kayseri/Nevsehir.
Since it is not a very busy town, the frequency of buses are few and far between – so check the time and plan your trip accordingly.
Money exchange houses are few although few jewelers will agree to change your money – and give you good rates too. If you are staying in Goreme and are visiting Avanos, it is a good idea to buy essentials here – Goreme is a typically touristy town and slightly expensive.