I don’t say this often but Turkey’s Cappadocia is definitely a must see destination for any world traveler. The unique rock formations, or “fairy chimneys”, at Cappadocia are said to be the result of volcano ashes, basalt and lava deposited and shaped by earthquakes and erosion over time.
As the rock below the top layer of basalt is extremely soft, it can be easily carved. Homes have been carved out of these formations and people still leave in them today. Staying in a “cave hotel” is a unique experience and we decided to give it a try during our stay in Cappadocia. The rooms look exactly like they sound, like caves, and are decorated with a few furniture pieces. In May, overnight temperatures in Cappadocia drop dramatically and sleeping in a cave is as authentic as it gets. The owner of the hotel seemed reluctant to turn on the electric heater but he did provide us with a multitude of blankets. Jumping out of bed and into the cold cave shower was a sure way to get us going in the mornings.
The best way to explore Cappadocia is on foot. We walked from Göreme to the nearby town of Uçhisar. The walk is spectacular. The scenery changes often with different shapes and colours. Pointy suggestive rocks, red rocks, and some that almost look fluid.
You can wander around the rocky valleys and enter at random some of the abandoned fairy chimneys. Some still preserve beautiful religious paintings. A large underground city was built by Christian believers during the Roman Empire to serve as a hiding place from the persecuting Roman armies. The underground city is approximately 60 m deep and accommodated up to 20,000 people. The city is complete with a winery, chapels, storage rooms and stables. Tunnels connect some of the nearby fairy chimneys where Christians lived to the underground city. Levels of the city are connected by vertical staircases and although dangerous climbing them makes for a really cool experience.
Uçhisar is about 5 km from Göreme and it’s the tallest point in Cappadocia. Uçhisar Castle is the summit and it provides great panoramic views of the area. We had pizza at a pizzeria recommended by our guide-book and even got to try handling the pizza in the fiery wooden oven. The walk back was just as spectacular. Without a doubt one of my favourite adventures.