Cappadocia is arguably one of the most fascinating regions in Turkey. Located near the city of Kayseri (map) in the geographic centre of Turkey, Cappadocia has a multitude of historical and cultural monuments, but is most famous for its unique geological features.
The region was formed by a combination of deposits from rivers and volcanic eruptions. The soft rocks gradually eroded to give the region its unique, surreal landscape with countless pillars, chimney-like structures (called ‘fairy chimneys’) and strange rock formations.
The soft rock also enabled inhabitants in this region to carve out homes, churches and monasteries from the hillsides throughout the centuries. Early-Christians even built elaborate underground cities to escape persecution. Among the underground cities, Kaymakli (map) and Derinkuyu (map) are the most visited. These cities are truly fascinating, consisting of hundreds of rooms, tunnels and shafts, but I do not recommend a visit for those who are prone to claustrophobic attacks – some of the tunnels are narrow and dimly-lit.
The Göreme Open Air Museum in the Göreme Valley should certainly not be missed. This UNESCO World Heritage site provides visitors with a unique insight into the history of the region and its monastic inhabitants, and houses around ten churches, chapels and convents carved out of the mountainside, some of which have magnificent frescoes that date back to the 9th century.
Tours in Cappadocia
There are many possibilities to experience the surreal landscape of Cappadocia such as jeep or bus tours, on horseback or in a hot-air balloon.
The hot-air balloon is my personal favourite – it’s a very touristy thing to do but absolutely worth the hefty price tag.
The hot-air balloons depart just before sunrise – when weather conditions are excellent, there are sometimes tens of balloons up in the air simultaneously, making it a spectacular sight both from the ground and in the air . The views of the verdant valleys, the fairy chimneys and the deep canyons in the morning light are truly breathtaking. I’ll never forget the sight of the wave-like hills below, coloured with warm hues of pink, peach and cream in the morning glow – absolutely enchanting.