Exploring the fairy chimneys

The French traveller Paul Lucas left first image of Cappadocia in 1712

Cappadocia (Kapadokya) is the name given to a large area of Central Anatolia extending roughly from Aksaray in the west to Kayseri in the east and from Gülşehir in the north to Niğde in the south. It’s an area of extraordinary natural beauty, the variegated landscape of deep valleys and soaring rock-cone “fairy chimneys (peribacalar)” created by the action of wind and rain working on volcanic deposits laid down millennia beforehand by now extinct caldera volcanoes near Acıgöl. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and provided the setting for Turkish film-maker Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s 2014 film, Winter Sleep, featuring real-life Cappadocians.

Within Cappadocia there are a series of villages and small towns, many of them with a flourishing tourism industry based around stylish boutique hotels created out of the old cave houses that used to be such a feature of the area.

Most of these tourist centres are clustered around Nevşehir, including long-established Göreme, Uçhisar, Ürgüp and Avanos, and up-and-coming Çavuşin, OrtahisarMustafapaşa and İbrahimpaşa. Other smaller resorts south of Aksaray include Güzelyurt and IhlaraCapscenery

What to see and do

Traditionally Cappadocia was famous for hundreds of frescoed medieval churches cut out of the rocks and for many valleys which offered perfect walking territory. Nowadays though it is probably best known as Turkey’s premier hot-air ballooning destination, with over 100 balloons taking to the sky every morning in summer.

Visitors also come to Cappadocia to ride horses in the valleys or to race quad bikes through them.

Other popular attractions in the area include more than 30 so-called underground cities, the best known at Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı. The Sarıhan caravanserai near Avanos hosts nightly displays of dervish dancing, and there are many other venues, frequently underground, offering Turkish nights with food and drink almost incidental to the floor shows.

capscenery2Avanos is a famous pottery-making centre with everything from small individual ateliers through underground potteries to huge pottery barns aimed at the tour-group market.

Ürgüp is also known for its wines. Visitors can go wine-tasting in the town centre or at the large Turasan winery.

South of Ürgüp there are Roman ruins and a magnificent frescoed church at Şahinefendi (Sobesos).

In winter visitors can even head for the ski slopes at the winter sports resort on Mt Erciyes (Erciyes Dağı). 

There are outdoor thermal facilities at Bayramhacı and a rather ugly spa resort at Kozaklı.

Museum Pass Cappadocia For TL1500 (2023 price) you can buy a Cappadocia museum pass that offers inclusive admission to Göreme Open Air Museum (including the Dark Church); Ilhara Valley; Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı and Özkonak underground cities; Zelve Open Air Museum; Aksaray and Nevşehir museums, Monastery Valley (Güzelyurt); Church of St John the Baptist in Çavuşin and Church of St John in Gülşehir; Hacı Bektaş Veli Shrine-Museum; and the Archaeological site in Nevşehir.

It’s only valid for 72 hours so you need to think carefully how many of those attractions you are likely to visit in that time to make sure that you will actually gain financially from buying it. It does save having to queue up to get in at busy times though.

Transport info

The easiest and quickest way to get to Cappadocia from İstanbul is to fly to Nevşehir or Kayseri; make sure to book a shuttle transfer to your hotel when you make your flight reservation or risk an expensive taxi fare (most hoteliers will do this for you if you supply your flight details). capscenery3

Alternatively, take the 12-hour overnight bus ride from İstanbul. From Ankara Cappadocia is a five-hour bus ride. Check flight prices before deciding since the price differential is sometimes surprisingly small.

Off-the-beaten-track Cappadocia





Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/europe/the-travellers-guide-to-cappadocia-500662.html

Read more about Cappadocia in winter: Winter in Cappadocia



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