Located in central Turkey, Cappadocia is world-renowned for its other-worldly beauty, captivating topography, rich history and diverse cultural heritage.
Immerse yourself in the Göreme valley’s whimsical fairy-tale landscape of pinnacles, chimneys, cones, pillars and mushrooms extending 40m into the air, where honeycombed hills and bulky boulders abound.
This geological treasure is matched only by its fascinating human history. For thousands of years, people seeking shelter underground have excavated the region’s soft stone, creating breathtaking cavern structures that spread out along the countryside. Marvel at churches and museums carved out of rock, or treat yourself to a stay in one of the many cave hotels in the area.
The combination of these natural and human-made formations have resulted in Cappadocia’s Göreme valley being named a World Heritage Site.
The Anatolian Plateau has a continental climate, with significant changes in temperature from day to night and summer to winter.
Summer: March to August
Spring is still cold; however, temperatures start to warm up from May and can get as high as 40°C in the height of a summer heatwave. Summer’s are dry, clear, and hot with average daily temperatures peaking at 28°C and dropping to 13°C overnight.
Winter: September to February
Temperatures remain mild at the start of Autumn and start to drop rapidly towards the end of October – it can sometimes get as cold as -20°C when a cold front sweeps through the country from Russia. Winter’s are frigid, snowy, and the sun is rarely seen with average daily temperatures reaching 10°C and dropping to 0°C overnight.
Take a trip through history and visit the World Heritage Site of Göreme Open-Air Museum, where you can explore a multitude of monasteries placed side-by-side, each with its own unique church. Keep an eye out for the brightly coloured frescoes on the walls of the churches and admire the 10th, 11th and 12th-century architecture of the buildings hewn from the rock itself.
Zelve Open-Air Museum is a fascinating cave town, carved into the soft rock that is prolific in this area, honeycombed with living quarters, churches and storage rooms. This town had to be abandoned in the 1950s due to erosion. The erosion continues today, and a few churches and dwellings have all but disappeared, giving Zelve the air of an authentic ghost town.
Derinkuyu is the largest ancient underground city in Turkey. It is multi-levelled, reaches down to 60m underground, and could accommodate up to 20,000 people as well as livestock and food stores. It was fully formed in the Byzantine era and protected various communities during several wars fought between the 5th to the 20th centuries. The city was eventually abandoned in 1923, rediscovered in 1963 and opened to the public in 1969.
Kaymaklı is a smaller ancient underground city, which was constructed and used for the same purposes as Derinkuyu around the same time. The most significant difference between the two cities is their structural layout - Kaymaklı’s tunnels are lower, narrower and have a steeper incline, with each space organised around ventilation shafts.
Uçhisar Castle is a 60-metre cylindrical tower carved out of the mountain overlooking the city of Uçhisar. Now abandoned, the castle supported 1,000 people during the Byzantine era and was made up of underground rooms and passageways. The landscape of this area is dominated by the ethereal fairy chimneys, which Cappadocia is famous for, as well as the ‘Valley of the Dovecotes’. Today, the population of Uçhisar subsists on agriculture and, more recently, an increase in tourism.
Cavusin Castle is the largest cathedral-sized cave church in Cappadocia, built in the 5th century and split off into three rooms in the 10th century against the danger of collapse. The walls of the church are covered in frescoes, mostly smoke-faded, but some have survived in almost pristine condition.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
The best way to enjoy the lunar landscape of Cappadocia is to take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise over the Göreme Valley. As the sunlight spills across the valley floor, the bright colours of the fairy chimneys, cones, pillars and mushroom-like structures are slowly illuminated, giving the observer the feeling of being on a completely different planet.
Hoodoo’s, more commonly known as ‘Fairy Chimneys’, are characterised by tall, thin spires of soft rock topped by a harder, more durable rock which protects the spires from the elements of erosion. These chimneys in Turkey are one of the biggest drawcards for tourists and are most prolific in the protected World Heritage Site of the Göreme Valley.
One of the best ways to explore Cappadocia is by hiking through the multitude of valleys that wind through this fascinating region. Red Valley Hike, Rose Valley Hike, Pasabag Valley, Ihlara Valley, Pigeon Valley, Devrent Valley, and Soğanlı Valley are only a few of the areas that you can explore at your leisure.
This is the second largest lake in Turkey and one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world. The most impressive aspect of this colossal lake is its bright pink colour produced by the high quantity of algae-like organisms present in the water. The lake is generally shallow and supports the main Turkish breeding colony of the greater pink flamingo. The water level of the lake is seasonal and dries up entirely by August, revealing a 30cm thick salt layer which makes up 63% of the salt consumed in Turkey.
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