Nestled right in the heart of Anatolia region in Turkey, Cappadocia is the country’s third most visited destination. “Cappadocia,” or “Kapadokya” in Turkish, means “land of beautiful horses” and was formed as a result of erosion sculpting soft volcanic rock to form unique features such as waves, clefts and pinnacles. The region has a mix of naturally formed rounded and jagged rocks, hills, valleys, and chimney formations in hues ranging from clays to pinks, making it look nothing less than a fairytale. Extant since the ancient times, Cappadocia is one of the world’s most outstanding legacies and despite its small size, it is one of the must-see destinations in Turkey.
Here is a list of things that just adds on to the charm for this region and should not be missed:
I don’t think you’d have missed the sunsets and sunrises of Cappadocia on Instagram but if you somehow have, let me show you why the lunar landscapes of Cappadocia are a must when visiting the area. This whimsical wonderland of unexplainable beauty offers a unique lunar, rock covered landscape, which is quite unlike any other place in the world. The exceptional landscape was formed due to historic volcanic eruptions and long-term erosion, which created a series of cliffs, deep gorges, green valleys, spears, cones and fairy chimneys.
With these wonders of nature, combined with human cave craftsmanship Cappadocia will just leave you in awe at the very first sight of it. Savour the moment by taking in these breathtaking aerial views at places like Esentepe or Pigeon Valley Viewpoint. You can either take a stroll or hike up to enjoy the scenic view.
Re-Visit History with Underground cities
Cappadocia is a fairy-tale kingdom not just above the surface but underneath as well. It has many magnificent underground cities which were originally used to hide from plundering armies who crossed central Anatolia. Today, you can visit these ancient underground cities out of which, the biggest is Derinkuyu that housed a staggering 20,000 people.
Dated as early as the Hittite time, these cities are formed in deep valleys and carved into volcanic rocks beneath the ground host a wonderful atmosphere and mystery. The most extensive and frequently visited cities are Kaymakli (the widest) and Derinkuyu (the deepest- with 8 floors), both of which are connected via an 8km tunnel. Descend on vertical staircases and wander through the maze-like interior of these narrow rock passages.
Yep! We aren’t kidding. While locals have been building their homes inside the rock walls for centuries, as tourism engulfed Cappadocia, these traditional cave homes were turned into cave hotels by the locals. Built into the natural geographical scenery, these hotels also carry the traces of the Hittite, Roman and Byzantine periods. In addition, they offer offers modern facilities such as hot water, TV, satellite, and of course the Internet. Each hotel offers a variety of different experiences plus ambience and visitors on all budgets can access an earthly abode.
Enjoy Local Cuisine
A trip to anywhere cannot be complete without tasting some of the traditional dishes; especially those which contain historic and cultural heritage of the region. From Gozleme (Turkish pancakes) to Yogurt Çorbasi (soup), Borek (savoury baked pastries) to Çig Köfte (spicy vegetarian meatballs) and Dolma manti (peppers stuffed with minced meat) — Anatolian cuisine is simply exquisite. While there are a variety of Kebabs that you can try, don’t forget Cappadocia’s best ‘Testi kebab’. It is a stew of meat and vegetables baked in a fire and served in a clay pot, with bread or foil covering the opening.
For beverages, you shouldn’t miss the traditional Turkish coffee obviously, but you can also give fresh fruit juices a try. In addition to that, as Cappadocia is one of Turkey’s wine capitals, the locally produced wines at far lower prices than you would find in Istanbul.
Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Cappadocia is known to be one of the best places in the world to be explored from a hot air balloon. The gorgeous landscapes of this region can be best experienced from way up in the air. The colourful hot air balloons can gently go over and between chimneys, pigeon houses nestled into rock formations, vineyards and over valleys-giving tourists a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As it is a popular hot balloon riding destination, every morning before sunrise, hundreds of hot air balloons are fired up across Cappadocia. Each of these hot air balloons takes about a dozen passengers for a birds-eye view of unique rock formations under the glow of the rising sun. Just while far below the town is waking up, you will be floating above and around the rock formations. I mean, HOW COOL IS THAT?
Private or group hot air balloon tours are available and leave daily but be patient if you’re travelling during or around winter, as schedules are highly dependent on the weather.
If you are a history buff, an adventurer or an outdoor-enthusiast, young or old, Cappadocia has something for everyone! Have you been to Cappadocia before? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below!