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Cappadocia

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Fairy tales are made a reality in

Cappadocia

Cappadocia

Cappadocia is known for its extraterrestrial look of its landscape. Thats why some films including starwars were filmed here.  The triangle of Volcanos created todays land what is to be called the land of the beautiful horses ‘’Cappadocia’’.  For millions of years the ashes left  on this territory created the layers. Thats why its colour can change from green to brown to rose to white. It is a great wonder.We  witness  mountians made into castles, sometimes we witness underground cities or mystisicm left by early dwellers. It has been a center of Christianism for centruies as well. How could people live in the underground? Why did monks choose Cappadocia? What does its wine taste like? Were the stars this much bright? Whatever you are looking for in life, whether it is simplicity or Luxury it is all offered here. We prepared you  a two day tour to experince the must see places of Cappadocia.

Ever wonder what it would be like to live in a cave for a night or to wake up to the sun rising above fairy chimneys like those that inhabited the region since the Paleolithic era? Well, grab your imagination and travel with us to one of the most magical places on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list: Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia

Covered in fairy chimneys, Byzantine art and rock churches, this week’s UNESCO World Heritage Site of Turkey takes us into the whimsical and mysterious region in the central Anatolian plateaus where you can get lost in the history and beauty of Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia.

We have already seen the social media posts of travel bloggers and amateurs alike creating the picture-perfect shot at sunrise in Cappadocia amidst the dry, rugged rocks and bright, colorful hot air balloons in the sky. But this region has a much richer and longer history than the Instagram fame it has gathered over the past several years.
The region’s history begins at the eruption of a series of volcanoes that include Mount Erciyes and Hasan that sculpted, along with air and rain, the unique, unworldly looking landscape filled with mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as “fairy chimneys” that stretch as high as 40 meters (130 feet) up in the sky. When the volcanoes erupted and spread their thick ash across this region, the ash turned into soft rock that solidified and became tens of meters thick. From that soft rock, otherwise known as tuff, the wind and rain of millions of years crafted the ever beautiful rock formations of Cappadocia.

Nature isn’t the only contributor to the beauty of the region. Since the Paleolithic era, Cappadocia has been an area popular for settlers due to its natural geological security features that kept civilizations protected from outside forces. This area witnessed the beginnings of Anatolian cultural history, including Christian civilizations and monastic activity that can be dated back to the fourth century. Early Christians who were fleeing Roman persecution flocked to the caves here and set up intricate monastic communities. The traces of a plethora of churches, troglodyte villages and cities hidden within the rock formations make it the world’s largest urbanized cave complex and showcases the masterpieces from the intelligent minds of early human civilization.

Aside from its structural glory, Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia also host the glorious Byzantine art specific to the region. The decor found on the walls inside rock caves, presumed to once be churches, is one of the leading examples of artwork from the Byzantines in the post-iconoclastic period. Not only does the incomparable beauty of the art give the region an exquisite charm, but the history and significance of it give us clues into the life and rituals of the people who settled among the mushroom-shaped, fairy chimneys of Cappadocia.
Although an important part of the world history for centuries, the 9,614 hectares (37.1 square miles) of Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 and includes seven key parts of the area: Göreme National Park, Derinkuyu Underground City, Kaymakli Underground City, Karlik Church, Theodore Church, Karain Columbaria and Soğanlı Archaeological Site. Since then Cappadocia has been a popular place for tourism due to its historical mysteries and unworldly appeal.

While many of Göreme’s troglodyte dwellings are now protected museums, you can still find some that are fully functioning homes and hotels. This is one of the features that make this area popular among tourists looking for an out-of-this-world experience. This past year, Cappadocia reached a record number of tourists, welcoming some 3.8 million visitors in 2019 alone. It is no secret that after the threat of the pandemic dissipates, tourists from around the world will flock back to this region to discover the mysteries and wonders it has to offer. Although a great contribution to Turkey’s successful tourism industry, floods of tourists also come with its downsides for this World Heritage Site. Due to the high demand for tourism, many ancient sites that were presumed to be intact for ages, are now facing severe damage and modern revitalization, although UNESCO continues to try and protect the area so that it can survive for another millennium.

There is a clear reason for the large number of tourists returning year after year to the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia – and that can only be described by the magical experiences people have when visiting. The history alone brings the past to the present, as you learn of the early civilizations that settled in the rock caves and are able to imagine what life was like walking through the dusty paths of Göreme National Park. But it is not only the history that brings people here time after time again. The “moonscape” features give visitors an otherworldly experience and although it is unlikely any of us will be able to travel to another planet during our lifetime, it seems like the natural features of Cappadocia can give us that feeling of being outside Earth without ever leaving the borders of Turkey.

No matter what you come to Cappadocia for, there is no doubt that your visit will bring you a wide array of adventures to choose from. Activities such as hot air balloon rides at sunrise, sleeping in one of the infamous hotel caves, exploring the underground city of Derinkuyu or taking in the beauty of each sunset and sunrise with a cup of Turkish tea, will keep you on your toes throughout your visit. All year-round, there are tour groups that can arrange the entire experience for you, from arrival to departure, but if you are looking for an unscheduled, spontaneous adventure, the region is also easily accessible by plane or bus from all major cities in Turkey and can be discovered all on your own.
If you have the chance, pack your bags and make your first stop after the pandemic ends to Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia for an unforgettable and fairytale experience.

Cappadocia

Places to be

Maps & Location

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Places to be

Destination List

High on every tourist’s Turkey hit-list, Cappadocia is an enchanting region of swirling volcanic-rock landscapes that seem to have been fashioned by mischievous elves. Humans have settled in this area since the Bronze Age and have left their own mark on this weird and wacky moonscape by burrowing into the soft volcanic rock to live.

The star sightseeing attractions are villages carved out of the hillsides; Byzantine era rock-cut churches with dazzling frescoes; and labyrinthine underground cities, where early Christians once hid from invaders. It’s a magical wonderland brimming with things to do that both nature lovers and history buffs can appreciate.

Göreme Open-Air Museum

Just outside of Göreme village is the UNESCO-protected site of Göreme Open-Air Museum, a monastery cluster of rock-cut churches and monk-cells that hold fabulous frescoes. The complex dates from the 10th to 12th centuries, when Cappadocia was an important Byzantine religious center.

There are several churches and chapels within the complex, but the most important are the Elmali Kilise (Apple Church), with its Ascension fresco above the door; the Azize Barbara Sapeli (Chapel of St. Barbara), with its red-ochre interior decoration; Yilanli Kilise (Snake Church), with its wall-paintings of St. George and interesting fresco of the hermetic hermaphrodite St. Onuphrius; the stunning and superbly restored frescoes of the Karanlik Kilise (Dark Church); and the cavernous Tokali Kilise (Buckle Church), with its dazzling wall-paintings that cover the entire barrel-vaulted chamber. The museum is one of Turkey’s top highlights, and it’s Cappadocia’s most famous tourist attraction.

Göreme

Incredibly cute and perfectly photogenic, Göreme has been voted one of the most beautiful villages in the world by several travel magazines for good reason. The village is half buried into the hill, its stone house facades hiding a maze of cave rooms below. The fresco-adorned El Nazar Kilise (Evil Eye Church) and Sakli Kilise (Hidden Church) are both on Müze Caddesi, a short walk from the center on the way to Göreme Open-Air Museum.

The village is the main base for walkers itching to head out on a hike, with all the main valleys branching out from here offering a plethora of trails that lead past kooky rock formations, known locally as fairy chimneys, and hidden cave churches up to panoramic viewpoints.

For many visitors, going for an early morning hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia is one of Turkey’s highlights. In high season, over 100 hot air balloons take to the skies just after sunrise and give you bird’s-eye views of the valleys and their rock formations. Hot air balloon rides take around one hour (with deluxe packages lasting around 90 minutes) and are available year-round, weather permitting. All tours include pickup and drop-off from your hotel.

Kaymakli Underground City

Cappadocia’s underground cities first began to be chiseled out of the ground in the Bronze Age Hittite era, but they are most famous for their early Byzantine history (6th and 7th centuries), when the region’s Christians took to living underground for long periods to escape from Arab and Persian invaders. Kaymakli Underground City is Cappadocia’s largest example, with a labyrinth of rooms connected by tunnels that extends for eight levels. Four of these levels can be explored by visitors.

Heading underground into the mazy network of tunnels is a fascinating experience, but those with claustrophobia should be aware that some of the tunnels are exceedingly narrow.

Zelve Open-Air Museum

With its knobbly-topped rock cliffs speckled with cave dwellings, walking through Zelve Open-Air Museum is an experience of the Cappadocia of old. The settlement began life as a monastery in the 9th century, and by the 20th century was a thriving village. Due to erosion and rockfall dangers, the village had to be abandoned in 1952. Now the entire valley is a museum.

There are a couple of interesting chapels to see — the Üzümlü Kilise (Grape Church) being the most intact — and a rather picturesque rock-cut mosque. But the real joy of this site is meandering down the cliffside paths, exploring the fire-blackened interiors of the cave dwellings, and staring out at the magnificent vistas over the surrounding countryside.

Derinkuyu Underground City

Derinkuyu Underground City is Cappadocia’s deepest underground shelter, and just like Kaymakli, was used by the early Christians to hide from attack. The tunnels here are quite claustrophobic in places as they travel deeper and deeper into the ground. There is a cavernous chapel area and many living and storage areas to explore in this below-ground maze. The ingenious ventilation shaft system used by Derinkuyu’s inhabitants can also be seen.

Derinkuyu and Kaymakli Underground Cities are close enough together to see both on a day trip, but if you only want to see one, Derinkuyu is less popular with large tourist coach loads, so you’re more likely to be able to explore the tunnels here unhindered by crowds.

Red and Rose Valleys

Cappadocia’s most beautiful intertwining valleys lie between the villages of Göreme and Çavusin. Here, the rolling and rippling rock faces arc out across the countryside in a palette of pastel pink, yellow, and orange cliffs, formed by volcanic explosion and millennia of wind and water erosion. Between the cliffs are lush orchards and vegetable plots still tended by local farmers, while carved into the rock are hidden churches and hermit-hideouts, which date back to the Byzantine era.

There are dozens of hiking trails, so it’s the perfect opportunity to grab your walking shoes and head out onto the paths. Three particular attractions within Rose Valley are the Kolonlu Kilise (Columned Church); Haçli Kilise (Church of the Cross), with its mammoth cross carved into the cave ceiling; and the Uç Haçli Kilise (Church of the Three Crosses), with its amazingly preserved ceiling carvings and interesting (though severely damaged) frescoes.

Ihlara Valley

The narrow, verdant valley at the bottom of this deep (100 meters) gorge in southwest Cappadocia is a nature lover’s delight. Hemmed in by rugged, steep cliffs, Ihlara Valley is a lush Eden of tall poplar trees and fertile farming plots beside the babbling Melendiz River, which runs for 14 kilometers from Ihlara village to Selime village.

During the Byzantine period, this was a favored retreat for hermetic monk communities, who carved churches and monastery complexes into the cliff face. The Kokar Kilise (Fragrant Church), Yilanli Kilise (Snake Church), and Kirk Dam Alti Kilise (St. George Church) are three of the best, but there are plenty of others to see along the way. At Selime village, the craggy rock pinnacle of Selime Monastery is also worth a visit.

Çavusin Village

The main attractions in the dinky village of Çavusin are two lovely Byzantine churches. By the entrance into town is the Çavusin Church (also known as the Big Pigeon House Church, due to having been used as a local pigeon house in the early 20th century) with a stunning interior of frescoes. In the old village center, after hiking high up on the ridge above the tumble of derelict houses, is the Church of St. John the Baptist. This is thought to be the oldest church in Cappadocia, and its basilica-like proportions and fat columns are an impressive sight.

Soganli

The twin valleys of Soganli are scattered with pyramid-shaped rock pinnacles that were first hollowed out in the Roman era. By the time the Byzantine period was in full bloom, Soganli had become a major monastic center, its rock pinnacles home to chapels and monk cells. The Karabas Kilise (Black Hat Church), Yilanli Kilise (Snake Church), and Sakli Kilise (Hidden Church) have the best preserved frescoes in this chapel cluster.

Soganli is an excellent place for a day trip, with the road leading here scattered with tranquil villages and interesting historic sites. Two of the best attractions to stop off at are the Byzantine-era Keslik Monastery and the ancient ruins of Roman Sobesos.

Pasabag

The mushroom-shaped rock needles of Pasabag valley have made it one of Cappadocia’s most famous landmarks. In the early Byzantine period, a religious community who were disciples of St. Simeon Stylites (a 4th-century monk, who spent his life on top of a pillar in northern Syria) devoted their lives to their own stylite practices here. Instead of pillars, though, they carved monk cells high up in the pinnacles to lead a hermitic life of prayer. One of these monk cells can still be visited.

A trip to Pasabag valley is easily combined with a visit to Zelve Open-Air Museum. The sites are about two kilometers apart on the same road.

Uçhisar

The village of Uçhisar is dominated by a mammoth rock-cut fortress riddled with tunnels and caves. Just like the region’s underground cities, this rocky outcrop provided villagers with protection from invaders during the Roman and Byzantine eras. The fortress can be climbed to the top, where you are rewarded with sweeping panoramas over the undulating valleys that surround the village.

Uçhisar is also a good starting point for valley walks. In particular, trails through Pigeon Valley and White Valley run from here to Göreme, making for a very scenic walk between villages.

Avanos

Avanos is a bustling provincial town beside the Kizilirmak River. The older part of the town winds up the hillside in a maze of cobblestone roads lined by dilapidated Ottoman mansions. Avanos’ main attraction is its pottery. This town has a pottery industry history that stretches back to the Hittite period and now, like then, local artisans utilize the distinctive red clay of the Kizilirmak River for their craft. Potter workshops and shops are along the main road in the town center, beside the river, and many of their owners are happy to let you watch them work or have a go at creating a simple pot yourself.

The town’s new museum, the Guray Ceramic Museum, celebrates this pottery heritage with an astonishing collection of ceramics from across Turkey. It’s also worth a visit simply for its location — a series of caves carved underneath the Guray Pottery Workshop.

Eski Gümüsler Monastery

Barely 10 kilometers northeast of the town of Nigde in Cappadocia’s far south is the Eski Gümüsler Monastery. This rock church has some very impressive frescoes that rival those of the more famous churches near Göreme. The paintings date from the 11th century and include the Annunciation and the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus flanked by the Archangels Gabriel and Michael.

Just as interesting as the frescoes is the mazy series of tunnels you can explore within the complex that have been recently restored and opened up for tourism. They are a bit of a squeeze in parts but great fun to scramble through.

Kayseri

Cumhuriye Square in Kayseri
Most visitors only see Kayseri on their way to and from the airport, but this bustling city has a handful of interesting Seljuk and Ottoman monuments for those with some spare time. The Citadel is right in the center of town, squeezed between modern shops and busy roads. The well-preserved Çifte Medrese in Mimar Sinan Parki was one of the world’s first medical schools and is now home to the Museum of Seljuk Civilisation, with a beautifully curated collection of artifacts that ranges from textiles and jewelry to ceramics and stone work.

Kayseri’s Archaeological Museum is also worthy of a peek for its exhibits from the Hittite excavation sites of Kültepe. Mount Erciyes glares down at you from wherever you are in the city. The town is only a short drive from the mountain (Cappadocia’s highest) and its winter ski slopes. Just to the southeast is the Seljuk caravanserai of Sultanhani, a good stop if you’re driving onwards to Sivas.

Hacibektas

Acik Saray Monastery
Hacibektas is a pilgrimage center for the followers of the Bektasi order of dervishes, founded by the Iranian philosopher and Sufi Haci Bektas Veli. The museum here is a place of great devotional worship, including Haci Bektas Veli’s tomb, as well as many interesting exhibits about the faith.

On the road between the towns of Nevsehir and Hacibektas is the village of Gulsehir, which is home to two interesting attractions. The rock-cut monastery of Açik Saray was probably used by monks in the 6th and 7th centuries and contains a number of interesting cave-cut rooms. A little farther down the highway is the 13th-century St. Jean Church, which is rarely visited despite having an interior absolutely covered in gloriously colorful and well-restored frescoes.

Ürgüp

Ürgüp doesn’t have many of its own actual sights but it’s a popular place to stay for visitors to Cappadocia because of its boutique hotels and good restaurant scene. Relics from the Seljuk period include the Karamanoglu Mosque (which dates to the 13th century) and the Alti Kapi Türbesi (a tomb built by a Seljuk prince for his family). The old town section, which runs up the hill away from the modern center, also has some lovely old Ottoman stone houses, many of which have been finely restored and are now boutique hotels.

Nearby is the small village of Mustafapasa, which, until the 1923 Population Exchange with Greece, had a mixed community of Greeks and Turks, and many of the old stone houses that still line the quiet cobblestone streets are the remnants of its now departed Greek inhabitants. The Agios Konstantinos-Eleni Church is right in the center of town, while the 12th-century Ayios Vasilios Church is found by walking up the hill to the ridge. Some small cave churches are also just out of town in the aptly named Monastery Valley.

Horseback Rides & Hiking in Cappadocia

Horseback riding in Cappadocia
Hot air ballooning gets all the glory but there are plenty more activities in Cappadocia to help you get the best views of the valleys. Horse riding, particularly through Red and Rose Valleys, is very popular. Most rides are more suitable for intermediate riders rather than beginners due to the rocky terrain.

All of the valleys have hiking trails winding through the rock formations with hikes ranging from a couple of hours to all-day treks. Many of the local tour companies also rent out bikes to explore on two wheels, and sunset ATV tours are also offered.