Henry Golding takes us on a journey through Turkey, getting an exclusive preview of the lost underground city of Nevsehir before it opens to the public.
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Coming up next, The Travel Show.
Coming up on this week's Travel Show, I go way back
in time, here in Turkey.
Join me as I go underground to explore a vast hidden city.
And get to see some amazing meditation in motion up close.
And we also head to Italy, to talk to the Mayor who wants
to take meat off the menu in her town.
Really, really nice.
Now, Italy is a country perhaps best-known for its history
and its food, and Apennine Mount region sees itself as the nation's
and its food, and the Piedmont region sees itself as the nation's
home of gastrononmy, but now the Mayor of Turin wants
to start a revolution in the city's restaurants.
We sent Rajan to find out why.
Some historical cities never lose their grandeur,
even in mid-winter.
The elegant royal city of Turin and, yes, those really
are the Alps behind me.
Now, this city is famous for its cars, its cuisine
and its role in the creation of the Italian nation, but now it's
staking a claim as being the capital of vegetarianism.
That's the dream of Turin's new Mayor, the 31-year-old
Chiara Appendino, who swept into power last summer
on an anti-establishment ticket.
Food is not just a matter of eating, it's a matter of being,
having knowledge on what you eat, how you eat it, where you eat it
and also about the story of what you're eating.
It's a matter of health.
It's a matter of respecting the environment.
So when we talk about vegetarianism, we're talking about what it means
to have a food policy and what it means to having knowledge
of what you're eating.
Are you a vegetarian?
No, I'm not.
Among the proposals are...
A vegetarian map for tourists.
One meat free-day a week and teaching children about animal
welfare and ecology.
But this is the land of vitello tonnato, veal with tuna sauce.
Brasato al barolo, beef braised in local wine.
Spaghetti bolognese and beef steak, so how will the Mayor's plans go
down in a city that's not just blue blooded in its history,
but traditionally red blooded with its cuisine?
In surveys, 10% of Italians regard themselves as veggie
and only 1% vegan.
This is Porta Palazzo, the largest open market in Europe
and if you want to get a sense of how much people in this
city love their food, just look around here.
This may be an industrial town, but Turin is also surrounded
by really good soil for vegetables and fruit.
It just goes on forever, just stall after stall
after of vegetables and fruit.
I think that the tradition of Italian cooking -
and especially the Turin cooking - is not vegetarian, so it's a good
thing to eat vegetables, but not all the vegetables,
also meat is important.
As a non-meat eater myself, I'm curious as to how
realistic the proposals are.
According to the Mayor's office, there are already at least 30 vegan
and vegetarian restaurants, like this one, in Turin,
but she wants many more.
How creative do you have to be to make vegan and vegetarian food?
For the kind of cuisine we make here, we want to propose something
new, something different, and then we starting a lot
about different kinds of ingredients or technique.
A lot of dishes inside the Italian culture are vegan,
but people don't know.
People eat spaghetti and tomatoes and think
about spaghetti and tomatoes, but it's vegan based,
do you know what I mean?
So it's natural in Italian food?
Yes, it's really easy.
This soup is a cream made with potatoes...
Luca got into veganism, he told me, through the punk
scene when he was young.
This is vegan parmesan.
He feels Turin is ahead of the game on eating trends.
Then we have to carve the truffle.
It's not easy, I know.
It's not easy.
One of the most famous and the first vegan festival
in Italy was in Turin, like the first Gay
Pride was in Turin.
I think it's like a really European and open-minded city.
Really, really nice.
Not surprisingly for those whose livelihoods depend
on the meat industry, the idea of a vegetarian city
is preposterous and donkey's might fly, as the saying goes here.
Buon giorno, Piercarlo.
Buon giorno, buon giorno.
Piercarlo's grandfather started this business in 1928,
meat is sourced from five farms in the prestigious Alba area
and its pride and joy is the beef of a local breed of cow,
called the Fassone.
Piercarlo says many local people rely on the meat trade for work
and jobs could be at risk.
The fact is though, this is a region that has also always celebrated
the diversity of its food, its deep links to the soil
and its refined tastes and aromas.
The bella vita, in fact.
To be fair, it wouldn't be the first time that this
city has led the world in changing its eating habits.
The now world-famous slow food, which movement celebrates healthy
eating and promotes good food products started
in this very region.
It's safe to say that meat will not be disappearing for most menus
in Turin for the foreseeable future, but the new Mayor's administration,
for all the talk of ending political gimmickry,
has shown itself to be very skilful at seizing the agenda.
By using the veggie angle, Turin has also been able to shout
from the rooftops about its other unique assets and raised its tourist
profile in the process.
Talk about having your cake and eat it!
Still to come on this week's Travel Show.
I hit the road here in Turkey and join the archeologists
who are unearthing a fascinating part of the country's past.
And also get to see an amazing display of movement
and meditation up close.
The Travel Show, your essential guide wherever you're heading.
Now, Turkey is a country maybe best-known to travellers
for its sun and sea holidays, but as a bridge between Europe
and Asia, the country also has a fascinating history,
as I'm about to discover.
I'm travelling to the centre of the country, Nevsehir in Cappadocia.
Millions of years ago, the region was covered volcanic ash
which hardened over time to form this dream-like landscape.
For centuries, settlers have tunnelled into the rock to create
over 200 underground cities and villages.
So many, that the area's recognised as a World Heritage Site.
Good morning, Sami.
Good morning, Henry.
But I'm here to see a recent discovery that might top the others.
In the heart of the town, among the modern houses
and office buildings, workers made a startling
find as they cleared a hillside for redevelopment -
The largest underground city of its kind.
Excavations have revealed these openings, dug
into the side of the hill.
Experts estimate the caves could extend over 450,000 square meters.
Wow, look at all of this.
I find it quite hard to believe that there were people living on top
of here and all of this was actually hidden, so they had no
idea that this was here.
That is insane.
Wow, that ceiling is rather unique, isn't it?
What's all this?
This is a monastery and, according to the scientists,
the monastery dates back to the 6th Century AD.
It's not in the best of conditions, but you can definitely see that
outline, that cross there.
This region was really important for the early Christians.
So do you find that some people are surprised to hear that Turkey
has had such a Christian history?
Most of the visitors which come to Turkey as a tourist, yes,
because Turkey's a single country on earth which has got the function
of a bridge which is connecting two continents together -
Asia to Europe, Europe to Asia.
Nearly two different civilisations that pass through this country,
those are the civilisations which leave some remains.
It's thought Christian settlers used these caves 1,500 years ago.
The winding tunnels and hidden openings offered protection
from attacking armies.
Starting at the early Christian period, the enemies
was the Roman Empire.
After 6th, 7th Century, the enemies was Arab, Persians.
And while they were attacking very often and how they could fight
against the professional soldiers.
Now, Sami, I've noticed a couple of these around
the caves themselves.
What exactly is it?
This is a stone door.
That must weigh at least, how much do you think?
Around 1000lb, 500 kilograms.
So it actually moves still?
Wow, that's a little precarious.
It's a little bit steep, isn't it?
There are so many little holes you can actually put your foot
in and fall through.
What is this area, what is it used for?
I mean this section has been used as a burial places, tombs,
or family burial chambers.
The caves weren't simply used for hiding.
As well as burials, archeologists believe the network
was used to store produce and transport goods.
Now these particular tunnels are a bit of a tight squeeze
and that's because they're part of the underground water system.
Now they think that it stretches for about 12 kilometres,
but at the moment they've only uncovered about 500 metres
and it's definitely not recommended if you're
a little bit claustrophobic.
Luckily, I'm not.
No-one is certain how long ago the first tunnels were built,
they might be as much as 5,000 years old, long before
the Christians settled here.
Only a small portion of the network has been excavated so far
and experts hope there are plenty more discoveries waiting
to be unearthed.
Wow, look at that.
I've actually heard of this spot because all the archeologists
are very excited about this, aren't they?
This is a church.
An underground cave church, the experts are dating back
to the 12th Century.
You can't help but notice that these ones are pretty well kept,
but a lot of them have, kind of, disintegrated away,
some have fallen away from the actual ceiling.
Probably, when we got to the other section of the church, over there,
things will be much better preserved or which are under the soil
will be much better preserved than those ones.
So this is going to take quite a long while because you need
the specialists who will take care in removing the dirt and, hopefully,
finding some more fresh bits.
Going forward, there are plans to turn sections of the cave network
into an archaeological park with art galleries and boutique hotels.
Authorities hope to open it to the public in 2018,
when visitors can see the excavations in their full glory.
Now, I'm leaving that dig at Nevsehir behind and heading
westwards towards the city of Konya.
Like many places in Turkey, it's seen civilisations come and go
from the Romans to the Persians, but perhaps what it's best-known
for was being the home of a man who's often referred
to as the Islamic Shakespeare.
Come, come again, whoever you are, come!
Heathen, fire worshipper or idolatrous, come!
The words of a 13th Century religious scholar, mystic and poet
called Mevlana Rumi, whose work has been studied
and venerated for centuries in the East and become increasingly
popular in the West.
# Come as you are.
# As you were...#.
Musicians from top 90s grunge group Nirvana to Madonna have used text
attributed to Rumi in their work.
He's currently, almost 800 years after his death,
the best-selling poet in America.
The son of a religious scholar, Rumi spent much of his childhood
travelling throughout the Islamic world before finally making his home
here in Konya, in central Anatolia.
He became well-known not only for his interpretation of Koranic
verse, but also the honesty and humour in his writing
and his clear sense of morality, leaving behind countless poems that
still resonate today.
And now many people come here to Konya to see where the man,
who is often referred to as the Islamic Shakespeare,
is buried and to learn more about his work an his teachings.
I've been incredibly lucky as a direct descendant of the great
man himself has agreed to meet up for a chat.
TRANSLATION: Listen to the reed, how it tells it tale,
complaining of separations.
Saying, ever since I was parted from the reedbed my lament has
caused man and woman to moan.
TRANSLATION: I am the 22nd generation descendant from Mevlana
and when I was born my siblings and I were taught that we had been
passed a very special gift to protect.
Others can learn and experience his teachings, but it's our duty
to safeguard the legacy.
So why do you think the teachings that Mevlana had written about have
grown in popularity, 750 years later?
The whole world is curious about the teachings of Mevlana
because he taught us how important it is to know and love ourselves
because that allows us to love others.
This really resonates with what's happening in the world today.
As a Sufi, Rumi was a member of a group of devout Muslims
who focus on nurturing their own and others spiritual dimension,
whatever their religion.
A whole tourist industry has sprung up around Rumi in Konya and every
year hundreds of thousands of people also come here to study Sufism.
Perhaps best-known of all Sufi traditions are the world famous
dancers or Dervishes who whirl in a trance-like state to release
untapped energy and make a devine connection.
Now this is a very special place indeed.
This is where they make the sikke, which is a traditional hat worn
by the Sufi.
They've used the same technique for hundreds of years
and it's all handmade.
TRANSLATION: In the teachings of Mevlana everything has a meaning.
People, objects, animals and plants.
Kissing this band on the hat symbolises the value
of these things.
So you put the sikke on your head, like this, and the ribbon comes down
to your heart.
The green band symbolises knowledge and you can think of this
like a channel, which means all knowledge should lead
to the heart and to love.
If knowledge doesn't reach the heart, then it's worthless.
Although whirling Dervishes perform for tourists in many parts
of the Islamic world, here at the Mevlana Rumi Centre,
I'm told that I'll see something far more authentic
and purely devotional.
Now I hear that they put on this performance every Saturday night,
I'm really looking forward to watching this.
Each devotional session or Sama is led by a Sheikh,
who commands the ritual.
Each of the dancers whirl with their right arm directed
upwards towards God, whilst their left arm points
to the earth.
Through this unique act of motion and meditation,
Sufi believe they can reach the source of all perfection,
known as kemal.
It's so hypnotising, kind of, watching them perform.
I can only imagine how they actually feel doing it and listening
and hearing the scriptures, it's almost as if they get
into a bit of a trance, but I'll definitely say
that's pretty amazing.
TRANSLATION: Everyone who is left far from his source wishes back
the time when he was united with it.
Well, I'm afraid that's all the time we have for this week,
but coming up next week:
I head to Brunei to explore the world's largest floating town.
And Alli gets a chance to play his very first set
and he asks why so many London clubs have closed down in recent years.
Catch that if you can.
But from me, Henry Golding, and the rest of The Travel Show team
here in Turkey, it's goodbye.
Well, while some of us were shivering on Thursday,
for others, for example across the North of Scotland,
it was remarkably mild.
A day of contrasts.
Join the team on their journey of discovery as they explore new destinations around the globe and uncover hidden sides to some of the world's favourite holiday hotspots. Henry Golding takes us on a journey through Turkey, getting an exclusive preview of the lost underground city of Nevsehir before it opens to the public.