Cappadocia - a natural paradise in Turkey is written by The editorial staff, RejsRejsRejs.
Cappadocia attractions Turkey
Cappadocia, Cappadokia, Cappadocia - dear child has many names. The beautiful area in the central Turkey is known for its wild nature, 5000 years of cultural history and the great hospitality.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists come to the area every year, and you can understand that when you have been there. For there is everything one thinks there is, and then a lot on top that one could not imagine. Therefore, here is a travel guide to sights in Cappadocia in Turkey and inspiration for where and how you can live in the area.
You can fly to Cappadocia via Istanbul to the cities of Kayseri or Nevsehir, both of which are close by. You can also take trains from eg Istanbul or Ankara or on a road trip along some nice, big roads.
The major sights of Cappadocia: Göreme Open Air Museum
Göreme is the capital of Cappadocia in central Turkey, although it is by far the largest city in the area, and here is the Göreme Open Air Museum. One of the great sights of Cappadocia.
Göreme Open Air Museum houses a well-marked path that leads from one rock cave and rock church to the other in a marvelous landscape. You can get a guide with or listen to stories about how the area was inhabited by Christian monks who lived for themselves in the many natural caves in the rocks. It took place at about the same time as the Viking Age ravaged the cold north.
Eventually so many monks came that more monasteries were formed, and the monks expanded the caves with tiny rock churches for themselves. A village was built outside, and for several hundred years the monks were an essential part of the area.
Whether one is interested in history or not, it is a fascinating area. It is an experience to sneak into the narrow churches and feel the fresh air inside. We were there in 29 degree heat in October, but inside the rocks the temperature is constant at 16 degrees. It is a hit in an area where it can easily get -20 degrees in the winter and snowstorms, and often it reaches 40-45 degrees in July.
At the same time, the monks who had connections to Jerusalem were also well protected in the rocks from invading armies from the east and west.
Göreme Open Air Museum was one of the first two UNESCO sites in Turkey.
The high season is March / April and September / October, and if you are visiting at that time, it is a good idea to arrive early, as it is one of the most visited places in the area at all.
Cappadocia's biggest attraction: The balloons!
There are many who associate Cappadocia with balloons because it is one of the world's most famous places to try ballooning.
When we were up one early Sunday morning, there were 80 balloons in the air simultaneously spread over a reasonably large area. Gliding up from the ground in a balloon is like soaring from there: Completely quiet and calm. There was no wind and the peaceful wind conditions are one of the reasons it is a really good balloon area. We slid up and down, around the wild rock formations and could see the extinct volcanoes at dawn. It's simply magical.
The biggest achievement came eventually when we had to land. We had been thoroughly instructed to sit down in the basket in a certain way, but just before we landed, the balloon skipper said we could just stay standing. For now, it started, which few would probably be able to do after him: He simply parked a 50-meter-high balloon in parallel with a basket and 18 people directly on a car trailer. With a little help from a few men on the ground, he perfectly directed the giant balloon down and we were able to celebrate the beautiful ride with a bottle of local bubbles.
The balloons can use the winds from the valley to move in several directions, which is otherwise not normally possible in a balloon without a rudder or steering wheel, and together with the beautiful views, it makes ballooning an obvious choice in Cappadocia.
We had two balloon skippers, one of whom had been our guide the day before. He was simply the calm himself and told of their rather extensive requirements for the balloons and skippers, who often fly 200 days a year, so they are very professional. They cancel by wind, which we tried for a few days before succeeding, so set aside time to visit the area if you want to be sure to get up in a balloon.
Ihlara Valley: The gorge you must visit
Outside Göreme, a long country road starts, which since the dawn of time has connected Cappadocia with Damascus and Jerusalem. It should be called the 'volcanic road', because it leads past a string of extinct volcanoes, and also leads to the Ihlara Valley.
The gorge cuts down through the dry soil, and here you can hike down to the bottom and follow the river through the gorge. Here in the Ihlara Valley, lots of remains from the earliest people in the area have been found, and it also looks like a landscape taken directly from the movie "Ice Age". The red rocks stand demonstratively up in the air, proud and upright, watching over the valley below them.
There is, of course, a sea of small rock churches - 105 of these - and you can visit some of them on the hike.
A tip is to go down at the main entrance and then out of the gorge again at the town of Belisirma where there are a strip of lovely restaurants by and on the water. You can actually sit with your feet in water while getting freshly fried trout, hummus and salad while the water gurgles past.
It's a perfect day trip and there are fewer people out here in the gorge.
Breakfast with the locals
The local Turkish food is tasty and cheap with lots of vegetables and lots of flavor. And then you can get local wine to most places. We can recommend the stuffed peppers, local kebabs, fresh cheese and all the other delicious dishes one associates with a Turkish Mediterranean menu.
This is not because there is a lack of good places to eat in the area, so it is easy to find a restaurant where you feel like eating. But if you want to experience a little more, you can also come to the "cooking class", where you cook with a local mamma, who with large amounts of kitchen knowledge and associated patience teaches you to make the small vine leaf rolls with rice, stuffed peppers and other delicious things.
The family at Hotel Kelebek, for example, has a small farm inside between the cliffs with cows and sheep, and there they also have a huge outdoor kitchen where you can try to cook and eat under the vines. The farm is from before, the national park was created and stopped future construction in the area, so it is one of the only places you can experience it.
Derinkuyu Underground City - Cappadocia Underground Attractions
The whole of Cappadocia is geologically a large Swiss cheese, where the soft rocks and ash layers from previous volcanic eruptions provide plenty of opportunities for both nature and humans to dig holes.
Therefore, it also seems very natural that in addition to the many caves up in the rocks, there are also a strip of underground cities. They were originally made as hiding places for locals so they could get away from the ravaging armies that came through in the 800-1200s on their way to or from the Middle East.
The underground cities have subsequently been used as food stores and to fetch fresh water for the villages.
One of the largest and most famous is Derinkuyu Underground City, where it is estimated that up to 20.000 people could have been crammed together on many floors underground. In cold rock caves via narrow rock stairs down into the depths. 60 meters down - on several floors. With a strip of closing mechanisms in the form of giant pebbles to prevent outsiders.
Fortunately, however, Derinkuyu has fresh water and air via wells and canals and of course plenty of food, because it was already used at that time as a refrigerated storage place for food and drink.
It is quite fascinating to go down into the depths, and if you have claustrophobic tendencies, it is a good idea to omit the lower stone staircase, because it is long and low.
How to stay in Cappadocia - hotel, camping and rooms
There are really many different options for accommodation in Cappadocia. In Göreme alone, where a few thousand people live, there are over 400 hotels. Most are small family-run hotels, and many have no more than 10-20 rooms.
Here are the editors' suggestions on how and where you can stay on your trip to Cappadocia:
- Try a rock hotel in Göreme: There are a sea of rock hotels in the small cozy town and it's fun to try. You should not expect 5-star luxury, but cozy and authentic hotels with really good facilities and the sweetest hosts. The best ones also have Turkish bath or hamam and pool, which Kelebek Special Cave Hotel. The small town has quite a few restaurants and a fairly peaceful population that helps you but does not chase you.
- Go camping in the beautiful nature: There are several campsites in the area, and for example Kaya Camping is right next to the Göreme Open Air Museum with a bang of a view. You are not allowed to spend the night in a tent inside the national park, but fortunately there are many other options, and there are also camping shops with equipment.
- Stay by the castle: Uchisar Castle is actually more of a mountain fortress a few kilometers from Göreme, and there are a few hotels with beautiful views and good restaurants. This is obvious if, for example, you have rented a car and want to get away from the more touristy cities.
Meet the locals in the village of Mustafapasa
The sights of Cappadocia spread over a large area, and on the outskirts of that area is the village of Mustafapaşa, where the - in Turkey - world-famous restaurant Old Greek House is located. Besides being an excellent restaurant, it is also a small hotel. Out here you get close to the locals and are still close to the area's attractions.
Around the area are still some of the original rock rooms, which have been inhabited until the 1960s. You can rent them privately, via the tourist office or a hotel, and in that way get your very own caveman experience. A travel experience on the rocks, so to speak.
Attractions in Cappadocia are worth a trip
Regardless of how you choose to stay, it is important that you book at least a few days and preferably 4-5 days.
There is plenty to experience and if you want to be sure to get up in the balloon, you need to have a little extra time available. That it is also an area you want to stay in, just makes the decision easier.
Lots of sights await in Cappadocia - good trip to Turkey!
What to see in Cappadocia? Sights and attractions
- Göreme Open Air Museum, Cappadocia
- Hot air balloons
- Ihlara Valley
- The rock churches along the volcanic road
- Derinkuyu Underground City
The editorial staff was invited by Visit Turkey, who has not had any influence on the content.
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