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Cappadocia is a region on a high plateau in central Anatolia surrounded by the towns of Aksaray, Nigde and Kayseri. Known even in ancient times as Cappadocia is it Turkey's most bizzar landscape especially around the towns of Ürgüp, Göreme, Uchisar and Avanos where erosion has formed caves, valleys, cracks, "fairy chimneys" and extraordinary folds in the soft volcanic rock. Göreme is on the UNESCO list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. It´s like a green Island in the otherwise meagre Anatolian hinterland. A visit to Cappadocia is a MUST for every Turkey traveller – the combination between nature and art is unique.
Take a few days of your time – you will not regret it. Walking and hiking - this is the way to explore Cappadocia so a good pair of walking shoes is essential. Summers can be very hot and winters are pretty cold but if you stay in one of the cave hotels you will be up for a surprise.
Cappadocia is suitable for every age – however most of the attractions need at least a minimum of fitness.
If your budget permits you should take a hot air balloon trip, especially on lovely summer morning (note: morning starts at 5 am!) its well worth it and the ballon will give you the chance to observe the whole moonscaped area at one glimpse.
History of Cappadocia
In former times Cappadocia was situated on the Silk Road. The people who lived there had been attacked by many agressors throughout the centuries. This is why they carved whole cities in the soft volcanic tuff. The first settlement is dated back to 6500 BC.
The Hittites have been here, later the Lydians, the Mede followed by Persian settlers. Macedonians and Romans fought their wars here. The emperor Tiberius declared the region as a Roman province. In early christian times the region was an important settlement. More then 3000 churches testify this period of Christianity.
See also:-Cappadocia Tours
Konya: Big town to the south east in Cappadocia. Konya holds an important muslim relic:
Monastery and shrine of Mevlana: Due to its religious believers please be aware that there is a rather strict dress code in Konya. Woman should keep their shoulders covered, skirts should be at least knee lenght and even men in shorts are not seen with great benevolence. If you visit the shrine please remember not to cross your arms as this is believed to be very disrespectful.
Kayseri: The ancient city of Kayseri on the eastern edge of Cappadocia has outstanding Seljuk architecture. Most of the old building are made of dark, volcanic stone which makes a nice contrast to the Mount Erciyes with its sparkling ski slopes. Kayseri's citizens are renowned in Turkey for being sharp traders. But you'll find friendliness if you visit the city's two historic market buildings:
Bedesten and the Vezir Hani, both near the
Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) in the city center.
Sultan Han and the Karatay Han: built in the days of the Silk Road on Kayseri´s outskirts are these 2 grand caravaserais.
Today Kayseri is a modern city with around 950.000 inhabitants. Some of the great turkish entrepreneurs are from Kayseri. Turkish favourite pastry called Manti are an invention from Kayseri. It´s know as well for excellent meat and sausage. Kayseri host´s the biggest airport with daily international flights. The interesting sites in Kayseri can be seen in a day trip from Göreme, Nevsehir or one of the other more interesting places in Cappadocia.
Göreme: Göreme is the favorite base for many travelers because of its excellent Selektion of hotels, inns and pensions, and its closeness to the Valley of Göreme which is today an Open Air Museum:
The valley seems to be unreal – the “Fairy Chimneys “, sometimes inhabited, have been formed by natural powers over the centuries. Natural and man made caves (some of them containing beautiful wall paintings) are unique. Göreme played an important role in early christian days when Christians still had to escape the raiding Roman armies.
Ürgüp: The center of Ürgüp contains many fine old houses of carved stone which have been turned into Hotels. The soft volcanic tuff makes it easy to expand the houses: if the house needs a new room, get your scraper out and make it yourself! Like most Cappadocian villages it slopes down the hill towards the valley. The center of Ürgüp has shops and a historic hamam but mostly it’s famous for the Temenni Hill: a high rock spur above the very center of town, with a saint's tomb at its edge. Temenni was a favorite place to go for the spectacular view, and to watch the sunset, but in spring 2007 a section of the rock collapsed so access is prohibited at the moment.
Üchisar: The hill of the castle in Uchisar is the highest point in the region. The castle contains many rooms, steps, tunnels and galleries inside but its best feature is the view from the Top.
Avanos: Avanos is a little town north of Göreme. Ever since 3000 B, Avanos has been known for its high quality earthenware, made from the mud of the Red River but nowadays the town has been mentioned in relation to a unique hair museum. It is filled with hair samples from over 16.000 women who have visited this place. The walls, ceiling and all other surfaces (except the floor) are covered with locks of hair from women - you are welcome to make a „donation“yourself.
Ihlara Valley: Most of the churches are located here. If you don´t mind stairs you can see the most churches in the shortest time by entering from the Ihlara Valley Touristic installations. The way down includes 360 steps and if you are not into hiking you have to leave the valley on the same route. In the valley you will be rewarded with the almost 60 churches, some of them dating back to the 9th century. They are bearing wall paintings, frescoes in vivid colors and many influences from various regions. Even Iranian style decoration you can see here. If you don´t want to climb the stairs back you can hike through the valley (7 hours) and you´ll end up near the underground cities. NOTE: In January 2012, the authorities closed parts of the valley to visitors while safety studies are conducted. They are concerned that some parts of the rock walls of the gorge may be unstable and may pose a risk of rockslides. Check locally to learn when the valley may be re-opened to visits.
Güzelyurt: As Karballa, or Gelveri, Güzelyurt was a flourishing Ottoman-Greek village specializing in farming and goldsmithing. Today Güzelyurt is preserved by law from modern development that does not fit the landscape, only Local stone can be used, and buildings must blend in. Most prominent among local monuments is the Great Church Mosque built in 1896 as the Church of St Gregory of Nazianzus to replace a much older church built on this site. Güzelyurt has its own small underground city beneath the town center, several churches converted to mosques, and a dramatic setting beneath the snow-capped summit of Hasan Dagi.
Zelve: The Zelve Valley, now known as the Zelve Open Air Museum, is among the earliest-settled and last-abandoned monastic valleys in Cappadocia. Its churches are not as many or as impressive as those at the more famous Valley of Göreme, but Zelve has its own attractions: the topography is even more dramatic, with crags and pinnacles and steep valleys, and there's more freedom to climb around and look at all the caves, nooks and crannies.Unfortunately, there's no regular public transport to the Zelve Valley, so you must have your own car.
Kaymakli and Derinkuyu: the largest and most accomplished of nearly 30 underground cities in Cappadocia. These cave-cities were excavated in the soft volcanic tuff as a hiding place from predatory soldiers. Mostly they were used in early Christian times when Christianity was a forbidden religion and Christians were hunted. The cities could be closed by rolling-stone doors making them almost invisible and prevented intruders from entering. Deep wells provided water, and tall chimneys ventilation, they had wine presses, food storage, livestock pens, cooking-places and even churches were carved out of the rock. The residents could live for weeks or months in these underground cities. Some of them are as deep as eight (8!) levels into the earth.
Soganli Valley: The Soganli Valleys are great if you want to do some Cappadocian cave-church exploring off the beaten track. Not many tourist find their way to this place so you might have it completely for yourself. The northern valley contains most of the churches, the southern valley has most of the dove caves or dovecots. They were build by monks to attract the doves to eat and leave their poop behind which was then used to fertilise their grape vine. Bring water and snacks since the valley is not touristically developed.
Mustafapasa: if you want to get away from the bustling villages of Göreme, Ürgüp or Üchisar you will love Mustafapasha. Like many towns in Cappadocia it once had a greek population. Today it is town with a university, an excellent Hotel in Ottoman/Cappadocian style visited even by royalty and lots to see and do nearby. Some people still call it Sinasos - it’s old greek name. If you are looking for authenticity in a turkish town then this is a good choice .
Nidge: located in the south of Cappadocia it holds several mosques like the Sultan Alaeddin Mosque, a byzantine monastery and a fortress with affiliated caravanserais. There is a famous market on Thursdays around the clock tower. Nidge holds some Hotels and pensions but most of the tourist will just stop here on the way in or out of Cappadocia.