Dubbed the ‘Fairy Chimneys’, Cappadocia is as magical as any fairy tale.
Turkey’s geological oddity is an enchanting sea of honeycombed gills and towering boulders with the perfect mix of spectacular landscapes and human history - Cappadocia is one not to be missed off any bucket list!
Once refuge to Byzantine Christians, the soft stone countryside is scattered with fascinating cavern architecture. Visit the rock cut churches and open-air museum of Goreme or the subterranean refuges of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli before exploring the underground cities.
Soar to new heights in one of Cappadocia’s famous hot air balloons and witness this captivating wonderland as you float high above the Sinewy Valleys.
Get up close and personal by walking the furrows of the valley; most hiking trails can be tackled independently or with experienced local guides.
Journey your way through the Rose and Red Valley between Goreme and Cavusin. These two valleys are by far the most interesting and easy to access. With water sculpted tunnels and fascinating shaped ridges, dive into the narrow basins to explore the rock cut churches surrounded by a sea of orchards and farm plots.
For the nature enthusiasts and historians amongst us, head to Zemi Valley. This quiet path straddled by cliff faces follows a meandering stream, the trail is enclosed by poplar trees and rambling brambles. With plenty of birdlife, frogs, and even the odd tortoise soaking up the rays out on the sunny rocks – Zemi Valley is a must!
History buff? Visit the 10th Century El Nazar Kilise carved out of standalone protruding cone and the 11th century Sakli Kilise, both accessible from the paths branching from the main route near the Goreme trailhead.
Gather your thoughts in Cat Valley - the quietest of the hiking routes. Enjoy the steady sound of your footsteps, as you lose yourself in the wide valley hemmed by high rise cliffs. Home to some of Cappadocia’s best pigeon-house art as well as the Cotes Pockmark, the cliff faces here. The slim entrances chiselled into the rock high above, simply decorated with scrolling patterns, ‘tree of life’ motifs and daisy chains will be engraved in your memory for a lifetime.
Nestled in the middle of the three valleys is the village of Goreme renowned for the world heritage site that was an important Byzantine Monastic Settlement. The Open Air Museum used to house 20 monks before becoming a pilgrimage site from the 17th Century. Marvel at the rock cut churches, chapels, and monasteries 1km from Goreme Centre. Don’t forget to visit the highlight of the Museum Karanlik Kilise (additional entrance fees apply).
Discover the phenomenon known as the Dark Church, showcasing some of the best examples of the frescoes with multi-coloured angels covering the pillars and vaulted ceilings along with breathtaking religious scenes. Due to the lack of light entering the Dark Church the representations have been preserved over the last millennium making them just as fresh and vivid as when they were originally created.
Beneath the magical rock formations of Cappadocia lie underground cities. First by the Romans and then raiding Muslims, local Christians were persecuted and driven underground. As hostile forces approached, locals would abandon cave churches and delve deep underground; the largest discovered was almost ten levels deep and housed up to 10,000 people. Explore the hidden cities, and pass through stables with handles to tether the animals, churches with altars and baptism pools, as well as solid rolling stone doors and the ventilation shafts that were disguised as wells.
To truly make this trip magical make sure you bed down in one of the charismatic cave hotels and live like a modern caveman, or woman, for the night. With lunarscape panoramas, accordion-ridged landscapes, and dusky orange skies, this adventure is one you won’t forget in a hurry.