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In the Land of Fairies: Cappadocia

Wednesday, 27 Nov, 2013

Giant rock structures that look as if they were shaped by hand, homes carved into the rocks, underground cities hundreds of meters below the ground, deep valleys, the murmuring of the wind… Resembling a movie set, everything pushes the imagination to the limit in Cappadocia.

The secret of  ‘The Land of Beautiful Horses, ‘the meaning of the world ‘Kappa Tuchia’ given by the Persians, is hidden in geographic changes dating back to 60 million years ago. Soft layers formed by the lava and ashes erupting from Erciyes, Hasandagi, and Gulludag turned into rock millions of years ago and were  later weathered by the rain and winds, giving birth to the goegraphic shapes we observed today. These formations, called “Fairy Chimneys” by the locals, are easy to dress, thus allowing the rock homes and underground cities to be built over the years. They were also used as shelter in times of oppression. “Cappadocia” brings Goreme, Urgup, and Uchisar, within the boundaries of Nevsehir, to mind. In fact, Cappadocia is the name of a large area spread primarily over Nevsehir, but also including Kirsehir, Nigde, Aksaray, and Kayseri provinces. The rocky Cappadocia region, which is smaller in area, covers Uchisar, Urgup, avanos, goreme, derinkuyu, Kaymali, Ihlara, and the surrounding area. This region is approximately three hours’ drive from Ankara. In addition, Cappadocia Airport in Gulsehir district receives flights from Istanbul and Antalya.

WHAT TO SEE?

The list of places to see in Capadocia is very long, covering large region. Uchisar, goreme, Cavusin, Avanos, Urgup, Aciksaray, and the valleys are outstanding. A warning though; no matter how many images you have seen, how many documentaries you have watched about Cappadocia, you may not be able to hide your amazement when you see the fairy chimneys and the valleys resembling the skeleton of a giant, prehistoric beast, as no image or movie can fully reflect the impressive appearance of Cappadocia. The best way to explore Cappadocia is to go with a good tour operator which  offers eco friendly Cappadocia holidays, Cappadocia Treks, Cappadocia Tours and cave hotel stay exploring the region’s rich history and culture. All our Cappadocia holidays and cave hotels are run by operators committed to the environment, responsible tourism activities & community.

WHAT TO DO?

Jeep safari: One to four days tours are organized upon request, usually with eight people and three jeeps. Starting early in the day towards Urgup, Mustafapasa, Yesilhisar, and Yahyali, the mountains, to Aladaglar, followed by Camlica Village. After camping the night there, you will take your life vests and go swimming in the river, getting back on the road after breakfast. The second campsite is at Buyukcakir and Kapuzbasi waterfalls. The safari is completed the next day by a visit to Yuruk nomads, who live at a height of 2.500 meters.

Horseback riding trip: One of the most memorable experiences in Cappadocia can be experienced at the stables between Avanos and Goreme. Don’t worry if you have no experience of riding. Initial training is given on the trails at the stables. Tour times vary depending on the requests of the participating group.

Bicycle tours: Cappadocia is home to many bicycle routes, where you are accompanied by an expert guide. Furthermore, you can choose one of the daily or weekly routes to view the historic and natural beauties of the region from a different perspective. There are numerous business in the region that provide tent, camping areas, and bicycle maintenance for weekly routes.

ATV tours: A tour taken in an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) that can be rented in Goreme. The tour takes approximately one hour, where you can visit the valley and the fairy chimneys in groups, accompanied by a guide. It also possible to take the tour during sunset.

Viewing Terraces: As you advance from Uchisar towards Goreme, you’ll  see numerous viewing terraces on the road. Looking out from these terraces, the valleys, Goreme, and Aktepe are laid out below your feet. Sitting on one of them, viewing the scene while catching your breath, is one of the most enjoyable activities in Cappadocia. But do not delay too long- you wouldn’t want to be late for Goreme, reached at the end of the winding road.

Goreme: Unlike Avanos and Urgup, Goreme is located amid valleys. All along the road, you’ll observe huge rocks, bringing the movie “Stone Age” to mind. Most of the housing is carved into the rocks or made of stone. Therefore, it is almost impossible to distinguish them from the surrounding geographic formations when viewing them from above in daylight. As night falls and the lights are turned on in homes and hotels, the stunning view of Goreme is revealed. The best places to watch this scee are from the special platforms on the hills above, which have been placed there to watch the sunset. Watching the sun setting above Goreme and Uchisar, you can see Aktepe right behind, gleaming in the horizontal sun beams, displaying her most beautiful colors.

Outdoor Meseum: Another  place you should certainly visit is the Outdoor Museum, located inside the Goreme Historical National Park. This place consist of churches and monasteries of every size built by carving into the soft, volcanic rock. It is possible to see Byzantine church architecture, and the most extraordinary and important  examples of religious architecture. Locals built their places of worship in the valleys and riverbeds in hard-to-discover spots, as they were forced to practice their religion in secrecy for a long time. Therefore, they are shaped like small, solitary chambers. As oppression against Christianity stopped, churches in goreme and the surrounding area were transformed into structures bearing the characteristic  of Byzantine religious architectur. within the museum, you may visit several structures, including Elmali Church, Karanlik Church, Tokali Church, Yilanli Church, Saint Basi’s Chapel, Saint Barbaras’s Chapel, and Saint Caherines’s Chapel.

Cavusin: This is a small village on the Goreme-Avanos road. Do not be fooled by its size-it is one of the most important tourism areas in the region. The Cavusin ruins right behind the village once hosted the Christian dervishes. Gulludere, adjancent to it, houses five churches. Churches near the valley were also used for defence against the raids of Muslim Arabs.

Gondola and jet boat tours

The gondola and jet boat tours on the Kizilirmak, one of the longest rivers in Turkey, are among some of the most entertaining activities available in Cappadocia. The tours are organized by Kapadokya Jet Boat and Gondola in Avanos. Inspired by the gondolas of Venice, they can take you on 10,20, or 30 minute tours. Held in an area of 500 meters, the tours take the participants to see the stone house s of Avanos and Kaz Island. Jet boat tours are what adventurers look for. The tour covers 11 kilometres. The tour gives you the opportunity to see the carved homes that constitute  the first settlements in Damonu , Sarihildir, and Avanos. Organized using two types of boat, with 22 and 12 participants, the tour times vary between 20 and 45 minutes.

Balloon tours

Everyone dealing with this business in the region proudly states that the best routes and most frequent flights in the world take place in Cappadocia. If you have not had a balloon tour  before, forget all the other tour ideas. The balloon tours star very early in the morning. Everyone gathers at around 5.00 a.m,  and shuttles take the participants to the lift-off site. With the effects of getting up so early, slightly  sleep deprived, you’ll wonder whether the emerging scene is real or a dream, as the shuttles approach the lift-off side. Dozens of huge balloons slowly inflating, with the darkness lit up by the burning helium used to inflate the balloons, seems too amazing to be real. There are more than 20 balloon tour companies in Cappadocia. On a busy day, around 120 balloons soar into the skies simultaneously. The most suitable seasons for balloon flights are spring and fall. The tour are usually organized with 10-12 people. The fee per person is around 150 Euros.

Underground cities: Cappadocia is home to almost 200 underground cities. However, only a few of these cities, constructed to serve as fortification and shelter against thousands of years of attack, are currently open to visitors. Two of the most popular cit are Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, 10 kilometres from each other. Kaymakli Underground City is close to a village carrying the same name , which is located 19 kilometres from Nevsehir. Only four floors of the 8-floor city are open to visitors. You can use the information signs to roam around the city. The trip starts on the first floor, slowly moving upward. Walking through narrow tunnels,  you may at times come across a church, a living room, or a cellar. This city is 40 meters below ground and offers living space for 5 thousand people. Picturing life in these narrow tunnels is up to your imagination. Derinkuyu Underground City is the most important underground city in the region, with eight floors open to visitors. Considering  the technology and architectural knowledge at the time of its construction, it would be unfair not to say that they are built using an unusual method.

Posted By Zel Tongu

Eco Turkey Travel