Cappadocia (Turkish: Kapadokya) is an area in Central Anatolia in Turkey best known for its unique moon-like landscape, underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in the rocks.
The Cappadocian Region located in the center of the Anatolian Peninsula, with its valley, canyon, hills and unusual rock formation created as a result of the eroding rains and winds of thousands of years of the level, lava-covered plain located between the volcanic mountains Erciyes, Melendiz and Hasan as well as its troglodyte dwellings carved out of the rock and cities dug out into underground, presents an otherworldly appearance. The eruptions of these mountains which were active volcanoes in geological times lasted until 2 million years ago. A soft tuff layer was formed, 150 m in thickness, by the issuing lavas in the valley surrounded by mountains. The rivers, flood water running down the hillsides of valleys and strong winds eroded the geological formations consisting of tuff on the plateau formed with tuff layers, thus creating bizarre shapes called fairy Chimneys. These take on the names of mushroom shaped, pinnacled, capped and conic shaped formations. The prehistoric settlements of the area are Koskhoyuk (Kosk Mound) in Nigde, Aksaray Asikli Mound, Nevsehir Civelek cave and, in the southeast, Kultepe, Kanis and Alisar in the environs of Kayseri. This area with unusual topographic characteristics was regarded as sacred and called, in the Scythian/Khatti language, as Khepatukha, meaning "the country of the people of the chief god Hepat", although there are more poetic claims on the origin of the region's name, such as the Old Persian Katpatuka, which allegedly means "the land of beautiful horses". The tablets called Cappadocian Tablets and the Hittite works of art in Alisar are of the important remains dating from 2000s B.C. After 1200s B.C., the Tabal principality, of the Khatti Branches of Scythians, became strong and founded the Kingdom of Tabal. Following the Late Hittite and Persian aras, the Cappadocian Kingdom was established in 332 B.C. During the Roman era the area served as a shelter for the early escaping Christians. There are also several underground cities used by early Christians as hideouts in Cappadocia.
- Ihlara Valley (Ihlara Vadisi) — lots of churches carved into rocks, this valley is about an hour west of the core of Cappadocia, i.e. Ürgüp/Göreme area
Discouraged by its remoteness?
Due to location, roundtrip travel to Cappadocia can be tiring via bus, or expensive via plane. As such, many opt to visit as part of a somewhat larger circular tour of W. Turkey, usually utilizing the well-developed intercity bus system and/or one-way flights.
Most of the bus companies have bus services to Nevsehir and Göreme. By bus:
The fastest and most comfortable way of reaching Cappadocia is using the airway. There are two main airports that you can use to reach Cappadocia. One of them is Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR) located in Kayseri and nearly one hour driving to the center of Cappadocia region. Turkish Airlines operates several direct (nonstop) flights from Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) to Kayseri Erkilet Airport. There are also daily flights from Izmir into Kayseri via Istanbul. It's easy to arrange a transfer or shuttle bus from Kayseri Airport to Cappadocia.
The second one is Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV), which is located in Gülşehir town of Nevşehir Province. Turkish Airlines operates direct (nonstop) flight from Istanbul Ataturk to Nevsehir Kapadokya twice a day.
Kayseri is on a busy railway route. It is possible to find suitable trains to Kayseri from almost all the train stations of Turkey. From Kayseri, you can take bus to go to Göreme.
Due to the very low population density which leads to limited public transportation, and spread out nature of the sites (Cappadocia is a region, not an area), one may want to consider either renting a car or hiring a tour package.
- Underground cities. Up to 8 stories of underground tunnels and caves in Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu (cost 15 TL each), Gaziemir, Özkonak (free, but closed as of Oct 15, 2011 until further notice) or Mazıköy.
- Gümüşler Monastery, (10 km from Niğde in the village of Gümüşler). Spectacular monastery carved in rock, hidden from the outside world. Dated at 10-11th century and only recovered in the 1960s. The ticket seller speaks some English and can give you a tour. The monastery has some well preserved frescoes, including the only smiling (Mona Lisa style) Madonna in the world. 3 TL.
- Hiking - Following the paths along the valleys is an amazing (and free) option. Check with your hotel owner or the tourist office for a map of the area with suggested walks and trails. There are several nice loops on packed dirt, sand and rock, that maintain a constant elevation and pass through the scenic valleys.
- Güvercinlik (Pigeon) Valley - You can hike the Pigeon Valley between Göreme and Uçhisar. The 4km trail starts from the road near the Ataman Hotel on the south side of Göreme or on the paved road on the north side of the hill where Uçhisar Castle sits in Uçhisar. Both trailheads are signed. Stick to the more traveled trails and you will have no trouble finding your way on this moderately hilly hike. The path through the valley offers spectacular views of the natural cliffs and the man-made caves and passes through a few tunnels carved into the rock.
- Rose Valley, (From Çavuşin, Ortahisar and Kızılçukur). Beautiful green valley.
From Kale Church in Rose Valley
- Hot Air Balloon Tours : are one of the most popular activities in Goreme. Typically lifting off at sunrise, these rides last about an hour in the air and literally go wherever the wind may blow in the Cappadocia Valley. The balloon baskets hold around 20 people with the pilot riding air currents much like a boat, floating down the valleys, often below the ridge line and quite close to the chimney rocks. It's a fantastic ride and if you've ever had the urge to splurge on a balloon ride, this would be the place to do it. There are 15 balloon companies in the region.
- Cross Golf. Cappadocia is a national park and its natural environment must be protected for everyone to enjoy today and in the future.Cross Golf uses the natural features of the landscape to challenge even the most experienced golfer. The fairy chimneys, fascinating rock formations and flora and fauna in the unique environment of Cappadocia remain unaffected by Cross Golf.
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- Mantı (kind of ravioli with minced meat served with yoghurt and garlic sauce)
- Testi Kebap (jug kebap)- Meat and vegetables cooked in a clay pot (or jug) sealed with bread dough. The pot is broken when serving.
- Pastirmali kuru fasulye (white beans with spiced meat)
- Local wines - Cappadocia is one of the biggest wine-producing regions in Turkey, and many wineries thoroughout the region's towns offer winetasting options.
- Grape Church, (near Uzumlu Church in Kizil Vadi=Red Valley), (firstname.lastname@example.org). Excellent local cuisine and inspiring amosphere. Run by Ibrahim Sakinan. Has a few rooms to sleep.
greek kitchen in guzelyurt
A trip to Cappadocia is not complete without visiting the Turasan Wine Factory. The grapes which are collected from local farmers are used for producing the world wide famous Cappadocia wines.
You are strongly recommended to stay in one of the cave hotels which are the specialty of the region. There are also many accommodation options in Urgup, Goreme, Uchisar and Avanos towns for every budget of traveler.
you can find also bewitching historical greek mansions and cave hotels in Güzelyurt