8 Places You Must Visit in Cappadocia
8 Places You Must Visit in Cappadocia
1 .Start your Cappadocia journey in Göreme
The city of Göreme is like something out of a children’s story, Gulliver’s Travels perhaps. It appears to be set into the very bedrock of the Earth. Rock pillars peak up above the buildings, some even have buildings carved into them! Fortunately, many of these rock-set buildings are hotels, allowing you to experience this way of living which has transcended millenia. The unusual geological formations are a result of volcanic activity.
First time visitors should choose to stay in Göreme. It is popular among tourists for its central location. Apart from being an attraction itself, from Göreme you can easily access the majority of the sights and landmarks, some are so close you will be able to reach them on foot. The rest, such as the neighboring fortified towns of Ortahisar and Uchisar, can all be seen in a day if travelling by car. Göreme is also convenient as it is the base of operations for all major tour companies and hotels. A few of Göreme’s largest caves have been turned into bars and restaurants, which are among the town’s most popular attractions
The first thing you should do upon your arrival at Göreme is to visit the best observation deck above the city. From the observation deck you will be able to see several wonders at once: the Valley and Göreme. These points are called Sunset Point and Sunrise Point. From the same spot you can clearly see the place from where the famous hot air balloons take off every morning.
Göreme Open Air Museum
Here on a vast territory of 300 square meters, you will find the famous Valley of Love, and many churches, monastery cloisters, and underground houses, all decorated with intricate frescoes. Standing in this open air museum is like finding yourself on another planet altogether. You need to know that there is not one Valley of Love, but two. The first is directly in Göreme, the second is closer to Uchisar. The latter is often depicted on postcards. Entrance to the Goreme Open Air Museum is 75 lire. The whole museum is a massive rock to the left of the amphitheater. Into the rock, also known as the Women’s Monastery, are hollowed many amphitheatres and chambers, accessible from the outside only by perilous paths and narrow steps along the face of the cliff but often linked by internal passageways.
2 .Hot Air Ballooning Over Cappadocia
Hot air ballooning is an exhilarating and romantic mode of transport that allows you a unique perspective of the world around you. Here, the balloons take off at dawn and some tourists even arrive a bit earlier to watch the balloons be prepared. If you cannot be tempted to stand in a balloon basket yourself then do yourself a favor and pay the 3 lira to enter one of the many observation decks. You will get a great view of the valley and the photo of a lifetime of all the colorful balloons hanging in the air. If you do decide to go by balloon, then take your time to buy a flight from a premium company. It seems to be better to purchase a ticket from the balloon companies themselves on the spot, and not through an online service.
3. The Valley of Love
This Valley of Love is the one most depicted on postcards, as I mentioned earlier. It is also called the Pigeon Valley. You can walk to this Valley from Göreme with the round trip being no more than 12 kilometers. The thousands of doves nested in the rock crevices secured the area’s second name. Another attraction of this area is the notorious rock mushrooms. On that first morning I went to Pigeon Valley near the village of Uchisar, it was a surreal vision. An outrageously phallic landscape straight out of a Salvador Dalí painting!
4. Fairy Chimneys
One of the most popular attractions in Cappadocia and Göreme are the Fairy Fireplaces. You can look at the unique rock sculptures resembling chimneys or giant mushrooms with cone-shaped hats in shape in different parts of the valley, adjacent to the town of Zelve. The legend is that magic fairies live in the pillars, but in reality, bizarre formations were the result of the destructive effects of rain and wind exerted on the naturally soft rock.
There are many workshops in the town of Avanos. Here you can not only buy handmade clay products, but also try to make a jug yourself! In addition to pottery, Avanos is famous for its carpets. These two crafts are immortalized in a monument on the main street of Avanos. The town is located near the shores of the longest river in Turkey – Kyzyl-Irmak. It is thanks to this nutrient rich water supply that pottery and other handicrafts were possible here.
This area does not hold any underground buildings or bizarre rocks, but you will find silence and solitude. Stay a night in Avanos to delve into the culture and learn something new. Take the opportunity to go to one of the local workshops and learn the basics of pottery.
Venture deeper still into the local history by visiting Aladdin’s Seljuk mosque and the Museum of Women’s Hair, whose collection contains more than 16 thousand exhibits – real curls that once belonged to girls from different parts of the world. This unique museum is run by Gonchar Galip, a master potter and students from around the world come to his studios in Avanos.
Galip’s pottery masterpieces are made using the technology of the ancient Hittites and painted with bright floral patterns. Galip has appeared in the Guinness Book of Records twice! The first time for creating a single huge pot made up of 1050 small pots. The second time was thanks to a unique collection of female hair featured in his museum.
6. Uchisar Fortress
This quiet town, located just four kilometers from Göreme, is more like a small village, where there are no banks or supermarkets. The settlement itself is not of much interest, but the nearby Uchisar Fortress attracts a great many tourists. This rock structure with its sharp top can be seen from any viewing platform in the city.
The fortress appeared in the era of the Hittite Empire and was able to accommodate up to 2600 people. The structure is slowly eroding, and travelers here can only look at a small part of the building. It is definitely worth going up to the observation deck, from where you will find a large-scale overview of the expanses of picturesque Cappadocia. The best time of day to visit Uchisar is late afternoon. You will be able to watch the
the sunset from the famous mountain fortress. Believe me, it is like watching a painting unfold before your eyes and it is simply breathtaking!
7. Kaymakli Underground City
Kaymakli – a huge, eight storey, underground complex. Each storey has dozens of tunnels and rooms that once served as warehouses, kitchens, stables, cellars and even a private chapel and pottery workshop! They were equipped with both ventilation and water systems. Scientists discovered a nine-kilometer long tunnel connecting Kaymakli with another attraction – the Derinkuyu cave settlement. It is believed that the underground monastery could accommodate up to 15 thousand inhabitants. Today, tourists in Kaymakli are allowed to see only the first four floors of the city, but this is enough to penetrate the ancient atmosphere of once-inhabited caves.
8. Zelve Open Air Museum
If you are walking around and exploring Cappadocia on your own, be sure not to miss Zelve. The first settlements within the walls of the complex appeared in the second century. By the beginning of the eleventh century, Christians came to Zelva, who turned a number of its premises into churches and cells, and today you can look at their marvellous creations. Until 1952, the caves remained inhabited, but due to the gradual collapse of rocks, people were forced to leave the complex. The erosion of Zelva continues to this day, and staying within its walls is dangerous, therefore visiting the museum is limited. But even a view of the complex from the outside will allow you to appreciate its grandeur and scale.