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Cappadocia is a destination in the very centre of Turkey, being situated in the region of Anatolia. It has been occupied for over 10,000 years and has been used by the Persians, Romans and Ottomans throughout its colourful history.
Turkish Airlines have regular flights to Istanbul and all Turkish airports, so it is easily accessed from all parts of the world.
It is famous for the volcanic rock structures that have been formed and remain throughout the region. Due to the porousness of this rock, it has been used for thousands of years to create a variety of buildings including churches, houses and in some cases, whole underground cities.
A guided tour of the area is recommended, even though most of its famous attractions are only 5/10 minutes away from each other, but without explanation, they are nowhere near as interesting. It is strongly advised to use the services of an established and professional Tour Company, so visitors can get the best out of these amazing attractions and this stunning country. Pienti Travel and Tour Operator is the best in the business, so is highly recommended.
A lot of tours start in the town of Goreme at Goreme Panorama/Gizzi Bahqe, which is a viewing point, cafe and souvenir shop at an elevated position above the region. This allows visitors to see large parts of the area and the amazing, unique and unusual structures. If lucky, the guide will obtain special access to a great example of a cave house, just a short walk down the hill from this point. It shows how people used to and some still do live in these amazing cave homes.
Only minutes away is the impressive Uchisar Castle, which is the actual highest point of Cappadocia, where again there are fantastic views of the region. This is a great example of how these huge rock formations were converted into useful and important buildings.
The castle is on the edge of Pigeon Valley, an area named after the birds, which are of great importance to this region. The whole area is mainly rock and thus growing anything with this limited amount of soil was difficult, but it was discovered that areas below where pigeons nested were quite fertile. It was soon discovered that it was the bird droppings that made the soil so productive, so the inhabitants carved out pigeon holes in the outside of their homes, so it could be collected. Therefore, throughout the region, these holes are seen in many buildings, but the best example is in this valley. Similar, but smaller holes were used for bees, so honey could be collected too.
The Open-Air Museum in Goreme is excellent, as it has a variety of rock buildings, but the best examples of cave churches in the region. It is very close to the center of the town, which has a number of cafes, restaurants and shops, so makes part for very interesting and enjoyable day in this part of Cappadocia.
Pasabagi is only a short distance away and is the location of some of the most unusually shaped structures found in the whole region. It is also known as Monks Valley, due to the shape of some of rocks, which sometimes have 3 separated peaks. These ‘Fairy Chimneys’ (as they known) are hollowed out cone shaped pieces of multi-rock formations, which were live in by hermits.
Near to the town of Derinkuyu, is a must visit venue called Kaymakli, which is an entire underground city. This troglodyte cave city, over 8 levels, dates back to Hittite times and is the best example of the 36 in Cappadocia. As can clearly be seen in this cave city, they had multi levels, which were used for protection and other lifestyles purposes. Th ground floor or entrance level 1, would be stables, level 2 would be storage, level 3 would be the church and level 4 would be a winery’s and further storage. Level 5 (and any further levels) would be the living accommodation, kitchens, toilets and ventilation shaft. The reason they were in this order was very clever, as having the stables on level one would fool marauding tribes and invaders into thinking the cave was just home to animals with nothing below? The noises the creatures made would also hide the noise from below, but also warn the inhabitants of unwanted visitors. Even the heat that the creatures created would shield the rest of the city from harsh winter weather. Even if uninvited explores made their way deeper down into the city, they would still be thinking that the caves were just used for storage or a winery’s, not for human habitation.
When visiting Kaynakli, not only can all the above defined levels be seen, but many other clever uses of the rock and its formations. The levels had adjoining long, narrow and low tunnels, which emerged into larger open areas. This was designed so that enemies would find it very difficult to make their way through the tunnels especially if carrying weapons. Even if they did, they would emerge from these low narrow tunnels one by one and bent over, which means the inhabitants could attack them in numbers and with height & space to do so. The tunnels all have many small holes in the walls, which were used to spy and identify intruders. They were also used to attack intruders, by spearing them, which then blocked the tunnel, so others could not pass. Millstones were used to grind the grain for the making of bread etc, but also, they were used as a way of hiding some of the living quarters, by lifting them up and rolling them over the entrance. Ventilation was very important and the shaft runs from the top to bottom of Kaymakli. It allowed fresh air in, creating an even temperature for the wine and food storage, but also to allow the expelling of stale air and smoke from the kitchen.
Not far away is another underground city called Mazi, which is also a good venue for visitors, but at present Kaymakli is more popular and most visited.
Nearby Nevsehir is the capital town of the province and is centrally located in Cappadocia. It is a busy place, with the main bus terminal, fortress, museum, cafes, shops and hotels. It too is used by some tourists as a base to see all of the region.
In the north of Cappadocia is the town of Avanos, which is famous for being on the Red River, which gives the colour to the famous Turkish pottery. It is also famous for producing Turkish carpets too, so visits to the factory’s that produce these high-quality goods are recommended.
Urgup is a small town near to Goreme and is famous for the Hot Air Balloon rides that set-off from there. These daily trips are spectacular, from between 20 to100 plus at a time, filling the skies over Cappadocia. Taking one of these rides is a serine experience, seeing the sunrise over the mountains, the spreading of the early morning shadows and changing colours of the terrain is breath taking. Viewing the whole of Cappadocia from the sky is an opportunity that should not be missed, as there are things that can be seen, that cannot be from the ground. A great example of this is Love Valley, which are two valleys that curve around and meet each other in the shape of a heart. Gliding high in the sky or gently maneuvering between the hills is all done with grace and the occasional burst of fire-power, it is simply awesome.
If heights are too much, this great ‘daily spectacle’ can be witnessed from the ground throughout Cappadocia, but there is no better place than a viewing platform in Goreme called Sunset Point, named for obvious reasons.
There are many hotels in Cappadocia, the most popular being the ones carved from the rock itself, and close to Sunset Point is the Cappadocia Cave Suites, which is possibly the best in the whole region. This hotel is built out of the rocks and made from three ‘Fairy Chimneys’, so is an extremely unique venue. It has quality accommodation, traditional fitments, excellent local food and drink, friendly staff and amazing views, what is there not to love about this venue.
Cappadocia is unusual, unique, amazing, stunning, beautiful, use whatever expression needed, but until people go there they will only have to wonder why these words are used. Don’t wonder why, discover why, discover Cappadocia!