The Caves of Heaven and Hell (Cennet
ve Cehennem), 1.4 km (1 mile) northwest of Narlıkuyu on Turkey's Mediterranean coast (map),
are worth a visit as natural phenomena,
and also as historical points of
As you approach the caves along the
access road from the Mediterranean
coastal highway, you'll see the lofty
walls of a huge Temple of Zeus erected
here in homage to the king of the gods
who features prominently in the ancient
myths related to the caves.
Park you car near the temple, make
sure you're provided with a bottle
of liquid to drink, enter the archeological
site, and descend the 288 steps to
the Byzantine chapel in
the cave's mouth.
Look upon it as a nature walk: old
trees, birdsong, seasonal flowers.
The air cools as you go down along
the mostly shady path to the great
mouth of the cave, where the air is
really cool and damp.
In the cool, damp atmosphere of the
cave mouth, the rough stone steps can
be slippery. Walk
with care! If you are injured, your mobile phone probably won't work in the cave, and it will
take time for help to arrive.
Another 70 steps
take you down to a flat area
below the chapel, where it's blissfully
cool, and a table and a few
chairs provide a place to rest.
Yet another 97 steps and you are down
into the cave itself, still with enough natural
and artificial light that you can walk
without a flashlight/torch.
Heading up and out of the cave is
daunting: over 400 steps to the rim! The restaurant on the rim there provides good
cold drinks, snacks and light meals,
and a shady, breezy place to sit and
||Some of the
hundreds of steps.
The Cavern of Hell (Cehennem),
100 meters uphill from Heaven, is a
smaller depression with steeper sides,
30 meters in diameter and 120 meters
deep. Luckily, its walls are too steep
to allow access, so you can't descend
into it (in other words, you can't Go To Hell).
Of course, the two caves figure prominently
in ancient Greek myths, according to
which Typhon, a fire-breathing
100-headed dragon, battles Zeus,
king of the gods. Zeus is defeated
and imprisoned in these chasms. Hermes and Pan rescue Zeus, who goes after
Typhon again, defeats him and buries
him in the earth, but Typhon's fire-breath
issues from the earth as what we know
as Mt Etna, the active volcano in Italy.
—by Tom Brosnahan
of Cennet cave. The
red hand points to a person for
a sense of scale.