The moment you arrive at Cappadocia in central Turkey is like walking into the Lord of the Rings landscape. Around you, the rocks are being whipped into regular curves, like frosting on cakes. Walking from Goreme, which is the region’s epicenter and amidst sloping hills gleaming green with soft vines. Women and men walk along goat tracks covered with a plethora of wood for fire. Beyond orchards laden with fruit in autumn, you’ll find yourself in substantial petrified toadstools rising in the sky.
The famous ‘fairy chimneys’ of Cappadocia are the creation of the greatest sculptor: Mother Nature. The passage of time has turned this volcanic terrain to create an elongated moonscape and a topographical wonder. The human race has followed nature’s steps and built homes from these rock cones. Some have been converted into luxury hotels, so get your cave rooms and live the way of the past (ensuite bathrooms are available). Wander through the valleys, and you will find a myriad of chapels, churches, and monasteries made of stone. Take a rickety ladder to an entrance that is dark to the church, enter, and you’ll be greeted by the images of saints adorning the walls, arches, and pillars made by local Christians between 700 and 1,300 years ago.
Highlights from travel
A balloon flight. Soar up into the sky of azure and look down at the breathtaking scenery.
Get a stay in the cave! Release your inner troglodyte and stay at one of the cave hotels.
Explore the Ihlara Valley. Walk to the edge of the natural chasm, and you’ll find a lush, green ribbon with a green oasis that winds its way through a shady rocky wilderness. Take a hike through its depths, and you’ll come across Byzantine churches carved from the cliffs’ walls.
Goreme’s Outdoor Museum. Take some time to explore the remains of this sprawling Christian complex, dipping into and out of the sun’s rays while you explore the dark, cool interiors of the churches once decorated with frescoes.
Find an underground city. Deep under Cappadocia’s dusty soil are ancient towns, huge rabbit warrens, many stories high, that provided refuge to those who lived there from Hittite times until the beginning in the Turks.
When should you travel to Cappadocia? The best time to visit Cappadocia is between Spring and Autumn. From mid-April to the beginning of June and September through October are the best time to stay away from the intense heat of summer and the crowds. When there is snowfall in winter, the area shines, sparkles, and is captivated all the more.
What is the minimum time you’ll need, a minimum of three days to view the most important highlights or a week to immerse yourself in the beauty of the area fully?
You’re planning your excursion: Top tour operators can arrange trips for you even if you don’t have your vehicle, but be sure that they do not transport you to endless stores for pottery and carpet. Remember to allow yourself time to roam around at your leisure.
Inside information: It isn’t all churches. The landscape of Cappadocia is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities, and there’s a burgeoning variety of options, including mountain biking, trekking, horse riding, and whitewater rafting.