Cappadocia – splendor of Turkey
After a short general walk through of the main tourist destinations in Turkey, now it’s time to turn towards a rather unknown but majestically beautiful place called Cappadocia.
Situated in the Eastern, more Islamic part of the country, Cappadocia is a rising tourist destination, with many areas benefiting from unique geological, historical, and cultural features. The main cities of the region are Nevsehir, Kayseri, Aksaray and Nigde. There are regular flights from Istanbul or Ankara to Kayseri airport, but rail connections have also improved in recent years. As we mentioned in our previous article on Turkey, the best way to get around the region is by car; so either bring your own or rent one.
One place you really have to visit, when in Cappadocia, is the “Fairy Chimneys” rock formation, near the city of Goreme. These sedimentary rocks were formed by lakes, streams and ignimbrite deposits that erupted from ancient volcanoes approximately 9 to 3 million years ago. The view is spectacular, many Turks choosing to take their wedding photos there. It’s a truly magical place – the fact that you can rent a hot air balloon and fly over this fascinating sea of pointy stones makes it even more interesting.
Trekking is very popular in the region. The Mars-looking features of the landscape in Cappadocia offer a unique experience to wilderness lovers all around the world. Don’t worry about getting lost – the Turkish police will find you, eventually (!). The most popular trekking destinations are the Ihlara Valley, Monastery Valley (Guzelyurt), Urgup and Goreme.
Finally, one should not leave Cappadocia without taking a tour of the magnificent mansions and cave houses. People living in the Cappadocian villages carved out houses, churches and monasteries in the soft rocks of volcanic deposits one can find everywhere. Göreme became a monastic center based mainly on rock churches in 300–1200 AD. Nowadays, tourists can have the full experience; some of these houses or palaces being rented out by locals, so that people can spend a couple of nights living like their ancestors. Most of the rentals are located in Urgup, Goreme, Guzelyurt and Uchisar.
Trips to local urban centers, such as Kayseri or Aksaray, are also worthwhile. The atmosphere is more Middle Eastern than in the Western part of the country. You’ll see a lot of people going to mosques and more women wearing traditional veils. Each of these towns has their own bazaar, so you’ll definitely find things to spend your money on.
Tips for your trip are pretty similar to the ones mentioned in the main article on Turkey: keep track of your money, but also of your ID or passport – migrant smugglers are known to steal documents of people that resemble the ones they want to smuggle; keep away from street protests or potential local unrest, but ultimately, try to enjoy your time there – it’s a place that you won’t forget, for sure.