Cappadocia is a region in central Turkey made up of geological anomalies, known for its ‘fairy chimneys’, rock hewn churches and bronze age cave homes. Used in ancient times as a refuge and shelter, the region has a notable history, in recent years it has become one of Turkey’s top tourist destinations and it is definitely a ‘must see’ for anyone visiting Turkey.
Landscapes That Will Take Your Breath Away
Set between lush valleys, high mountains, dormant volcanoes, cave houses and natural rock formations, Cappadocia is a photographers paradise. Centuries of volcanic eruptions, erosion, wind, water and the arrival of certain ancient civilizations have all played a part in forming the surreal landscape, Cappadocia tours can take you to the famous places to see sights such as the fairy chimneys, cinder cones and Rose Valley.
Explore Underground Cities
Carved into volcanic stone as early as the Hittite time, there are many cave-cities in the region, originally used to hide from plundering armies who crossed central Anatolia now they are open to tourists. More than just tunnels these were real cities with churches, schools, stables, living quarters, wells, kitchens and wineries. The most extensive and frequently visited are Kaymakli, the widest, and Derinkuyu, the deepest, with 8 floors. Descend on vertical staircases and wonder through the maze of narrow rock passages. An 8KM tunnel connect the two cities so if you’re feeling energetic you can walk the ancient road between them.
A Museum Like No Other
While most museums involve four walls and glass cabinets, the Goreme Open Air Museum, UNESCO world heritage site since 1984, offers its visitors a more interactive experience. You could easily spend a few hours here exploring rock-cut churches with their beautiful frescoes, the most well preserved can be found in Karanlık Kilise (Dark Church). At only a two kilometers from Goreme village you will be able to stroll back to your hotel after.
Sleep in a Cave
Yes, a cave! But your cave will have a bed, bathroom and maybe even WIFI. Due to the nature of the land locals have been building their homes inside the rock walls for centuries and a range of very comfortable cave accommodations are available. Gerӧme and Uchisar are both good places to base yourself while exploring the area. Uchisar, situated at the highest point in Cappadocia, is the quieter of the two, with more luxury hotels and a castle nearby. Goreme, with good transport links, offers more budget accommodation.
Authentic Turkish Villages
Although the Cappadocia region is vast the main villages of historic and cultural interest are relatively close to one another. Avanos is known for its pottery and ceramics, a busy market is held on a Friday, walk through the cobbled stone streets or taste some local food one of the cafes along the bank of the Kizilirmak (Red River). Mustafapaşa is historically and architecturally very interesting, today you still see examples of old Greek houses with decorative facades and blue doors, the village is home to 26 Greek churches which are slowly being restored. Alternatively Ürgüp is a lively market town, take advantage of the fresh fruits, meats and homemade cheeses, browse for locally made handicrafts or visit a Turkish hamam. While these towns have been influenced by tourism they are not dominated by it and you could spend a pleasant day or two experiencing real Turkish life.
Experience Remarkable History
With archaeological records that date back to 5500 BC Cappadocia is a historical gem, the region played an important role in early Christianity and later Islam, influence of both religions can be found. Meanwhile previous occupants include the Hittites, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and the Ottomans. There are few places that can claim such an impressive background.
For outdoor lovers there is also plenty to do in the region, there are many beautiful valleys with well marked trails in the area, so don’t forget to pack your hiking boots. Some of the best trails are around the Rose and Red valleys, Pigeon valley, Zemi Valley, Ihlara valley and Zelve Valley, with many cave dwelling to explore. Each route will bring you to diverse geological features and fantastic panoramic views, between Ürgüp and Goreme is especially stunning.
Enjoy Local Cuisine
To say that Turkish food is delicious would be an understatement and Anatolian food is particularly exquisite. Gozleme (Turkish pancakes), Yogurt Çorbasi (soup), Borek (savory baked pastries), Çig Köfte (spicy vegetarian meatballs), Dolma (stuffed peppers). Along with fresh fruit juices and locally produced wines at far lower prices than you would find in Istanbul, you may put on a few pounds during your visit.
See The Sunrise From A Hot Air Balloon
Every morning, in the early hours, 10-15 hot air balloons float high above the legendary Lunar Landscape while far below the town is just waking up. Where else could you enjoy a birds-eye view of unique rock formations under the glow of the rising sun?
Private or group hot air balloon tours are available and leave daily, alternatively if you are based in south-west Turkey or are short on time you could take Fethiye to Cappadocia tour, transport can also be organized from other destinations.
Cappadocia has so much to offer, whether you’re an adventurer, history-buff or outdoors-enthusiast, whether you’re young or old, looking for relaxation or a cultural immersion, you are sure to find something that suits you and you’ll probably wish that you could stay for longer in this magical region.