Turkey · Cappadocia
Cappadocia (Turkish: Kapadokya) in Turkey is the historic area of central Anatolia bounded by the towns of Hacıbektaş, Aksaray, Niğde and Kayseri. It is Turkey’s most visually striking region, especially the “moonscape” area around the towns of Ürgüp, Göreme, Uçhisar, Avanos and Mustafapaşa (Sinasos), where erosion has formed caves, clefts, pinnacles, “fairy chimneys” and sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rock.
As if plucked from a whimsical fairytale and set down upon the stark Anatolian plains, Cappadocia is a geological oddity of honeycombed hills and towering boulders of otherworldly beauty. The fantastical topography is matched by the human history here. People have long utilised the region’s soft stone, seeking shelter underground and leaving the countryside scattered with fascinating cavern architecture. The fresco-adorned rock-cut churches of Göreme Open-Air Museum and the subterranean refuges of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı are the most famous sights, while simply bedding down in one of Cappadocia’s cave hotels is an experience in 21st-century cave living.
Although the volcanic landscape can appear inhospitable, the mineral-rich soil is excellent for growing vegetables and fruits, making Cappadocia a rich agricultural region. It has always been one of Anatolia’s prime grape-growing areas, and still boasts many productive vineyards and wineries.
Prime activities here are visiting the historic painted cave churches of the many monastic valleys (especially the Göreme Valley and Zelve Valley), hiking the volcanic valleys (especially the Rose Valley [Güllüdere]), and spending the night in a comfortable cave hotel room with all the modern comforts.
Cappadocia is also known around the world as one of the best places to fly with hot air balloons. The spectacular surrealistic landscapes combined with excellent flying conditions allow the balloons to gently drift over and between fairy chimneys, pigeon houses hewn into the unique rock formations, orchards and vineyards – through impressive valleys, each with distinctive rock formations, colors and features – and then float up over rippled ravines for breathtaking views over the region.