Everyone’s heard of Istanbul, but the wonders of Cappadocia, only 1-hour flight east, are often unknown. Well.. no more! Read on to learn a bit about this intriguing area of limestone formations, castles and cave dwellers, and even hikes!
You can fly from Istanbul to Cappadocia, into 1 of 2 airport towns: Kayseri (pr Kay-cer-ay) or Nevsehir (pr Nev-se-hir), and your first sights will likely be the iconic limestone natural pillars called Fairy Chimneys (above). It’s hard to imagine the scale, but many of these are as high as 40 meters! The tuff from volcanic eruptions from 3+million years ago, and the later erosion, created these minaret-type spires, as well as the soft rock cliffs that the people of the villages at the heart of the Cappadocia Region carved out to form houses, churches and monasteries
Cappadocia is referenced in literature as far back as the Bible, and, in fact, its caves served as remote refuges where Christians hid out from Roman prosecutors.
One such area is the Koreme, a 1st-century community, now UNESCO World Heritage site, that you can tour,
Largely a monastic space, there are dozens of chapels, with detailed frescoes
and also rock houses, like this one with a dining table carved right into the cave’s stone:
Another hiding space were the Underground Cities, which number as many as 300, only 10% of which are explored and open. It’s jaw-dropping to walk from the empty, rolling grasslands – often marked only by a well opening — down into these unbelievable warrens, which sometimes go to as deep as 7 stories!
They include kitchens with tandori ovens carved right into the floor, chapels, storage, air shafts, wells, and massive stone “doors” to keep out invaders. Here are some shots of the Derinkuyu site:
Here is the wine-making facility:
and here is one of the many tombs used for temporary burials when they were under seige:
At the highest point of Cappadocia is the Uchisar Castle, which is really more of a fortress. In the picture, below, Uchisar Castle is the columnar shape rising out of the village.
Most of the rooms of the castle are closed for safety reasons but that’s not the point, anyway! The big deal is to hike to the top (watch your step! most organized tour groups do not allow their participants to take the hike) for incredible panoramic views!
It’s surrounded by a city, where you can grab lunch or even stay overnight. There’s a famous cave hotel here called the CCR, but an even better inspiration is the boutique Museum Hotel:
You can also tour a winery,, shop for one of their famous handmade dolls:
or tour a potter:
Or take a hike!
For a full slideshow, check this out: