Didem Doğan

Cappadocia

Houses carved into caves, churches, monasteries. Caves, valleys and surreal landscapes. Welcome to one of the most interesting places on earth.

The lavas, ashes and muds of the volcanic mountains that are no longer active, Hasan and Erciyes,

form the rocks which are then shaped by rivers, floods and rains that form the canyons, valleys, curves, chimney and tower like formations during millions of years making Cappadocia a true open air museum. The main colour of the region is rust, a brick red, sometimes a dark yellow, ice white; actually it wears hundreds of different tones each hour by the sun light and make you feel like you are in a wonderland.

This marvellous geography becomes more interesting by the human touch; churches carved into caves, monasteries, under ground cities, it was the place the first Christians and monks used to live, a place of solitude, far from today’s tourist crowds.

Cappadocia, having several villages and national parks, should be seen in a couple of days. Most of the churches and monasteries are located in Goreme Open Air Museum. Inhabited from fourth to thirteenth century each one has rooms and a kitchen and are lined in the shape of a crescent. Çarıklı Church, Dark Church, Church with a serpent, St Barbara Church, Apple Church, named by the details in the interior, they have mosaics, pictures, figures from Christian history. We are visiting one after another. Outside the museum but still close to Goreme are The Church of El Nazar and the Hidden Church. In the afternoon we continue to the village of Uchisar which offers picturesque views due to its location on a hill; there is also a castle here and the most chic boutique hotels of the region are located in this village. We then go to the Red Valle to see end the day; it is called red valley because of the colours it takes at the sunset. Taking a local wine and coming here to watch the sunset is quite common among visitors.

To truly visit Cappadocia you will need more than a day; there are many villages which are spread out and they are located ten to fifteen kms from one another. We continue our visit with Zelve, another open air museum. It is made of sixteen churches carved into rocks like Goreme. What makes Zelve beautiful is its being at the intersection of three valleys and a canyon. This place will be calmer than Goreme. We then continue to Urgup, another village with nice boutique hotels, this village has also a Selcuki heritage with a caravanserai and a tomb. If you continue further to the village of Mustafa pasha, you will find a place even calmer and less crowded.

Cappadocia also hosts two famous underground cities, Ozkonak and Kaymakli, which were built to escape persecutions. They have roads, labyrinths, kitchens, rooms, wells and chimneys which show during one periods of time people could live in these underground cities. It is quite interesting and also claustrophobic I should say. If you have one more day we recommend you to visit the valley of Ihlara, a popular place among hikers.

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