I booked four days at Mantar Evi in Ortahisar, Cappadocia, looking for someplace I could experience everyday Anatolian life. How well I chose! Zülfiye Mantar has renovated the upper floor of her parents’ home, creating two ensuite rooms for guests plus a small share area furnished with a small table and chairs, sink, mini-fridge, and a kettle with tea and coffee making supplies. The two rooms also share a small outdoor balcony.
My room was as fine as any I have seen: spacious and airy, with arched ceilings and filled with hand-embroidered and edged handiwork. There was no cabinet, but hooks on a wall where I could hang things and ample space in the room (it was very big!) to store my luggage. I had my own private seating area, covered in typical Cappadocian handiwork, under two carved curved windows. The stone tile bathroom was spotless, modern, and large. The shower was not enclosed, by either a cabinet or curtain, but was in a large area recessed about three inches away from the rest of the bathroom floor. The bathroom outside of the shower area stayed completely dry when I showered.
Zülfiye is a welcoming, talented host. (The charming details in the room are all of her design.) She greeted me with a hug and invited me downstairs for some traditional Cappadocian music. Her home cooked meals were a delight at the end of the day, some of the best food I had in Turkey. (Breakfasts are included in the cost of the room; dinners are extra.) I spent many of my evenings after dinner sitting on the balcony watching the moon over Ortahisar castle listening to Zülfiye’s father play the drums. (Happily, a musical evening wasn’t a one-time event orchestrated for my welcoming; music was played three out of the five nights I was there.)
Your experience of Mantar Evi can end here, with a beautifully appointed room and a wonderful host. Zülfiye gladly serves her guests breakfasts in the upstairs common room. Or, you can become part of a typical Anatolian family: Zülfiye, her 8-year old son Murat, and her parents, Ali and Fatma.)
(Keep in mind that while the upstairs of the pension is reminiscent of a boutique hotel, the family living quarters are a typical Anatolian home.)
I chose the latter, eating breakfasts and dinners with the family, hulling walnuts, seeding squash, and baking bread in a tandoor oven. Guests are not expected to do any work; I simply chose to dive in and experience Cappadocian life. I sorted walnuts, scooped seeds from gourds, and helped bake 40 loaves of bread in a tandoor oven, learning about food preparation for the winter. None of this work is expected of guests; I asked to help and considered it a real privilege to work along two such remarkable women. Zülfiye is an exceptionally resourceful young woman, creating and running Mantar Evi on her own. Fatma is a woman full of spark and grace who can who can laughingly crack a hardboiled egg against her husband’s head at breakfast or quietly unfurl a prayer mat while women chatter around her and cats yowl in the yard.
Turkey is an extraordinary country, but my fondest memories are of Zülfiye and her family. I cannot recommend Mantar Evi highly enough.
- Also Known As:
- Mantar Evi Cappadocia/Ortahisar