Cappadocia Review - History-rich Magical Landscape

 

It's easy to fall in love with Cappadocia, or certainly to think your stay was too short. 

 

 

If you go for three days you will crave a full week.  If you go for a week you will crave two more.  You will meet many Turks who came from elsewhere and decided Cappadocia needs a full lifetime to be given it's due.

 

 

First and foremost is the startling and wondrous landscape.  Americans might imagine a combination of Sedona and the Badlands served up in parts as fluffy soft serve ice cream.

 

 

Mushroom-shaped fairy castle outcroppings abound, as do craggy peaks all filled with largely vestigial pigeon homes in had once been troglodyte havens for persecuted early Christians seeking safety. 

 

 

Rumors that George Lucas used this lunar dreamscape for Star Wars filming are quite plausible, though untrue.

 

 

Every morning--or nearly so-- armies of awestruck tourists board a hundred or so colorful hot air balloons to see this geological wonder from on high. 

 

 

Cappadocia is one of the best places in the world for hot air ballooning, both because weather cooperates and the vistas never fail to charm. 

 

 

What you are looking at are volcanic landscapes eroded over time by the steppe's wind and water.  If you have an interest in geology Cappadocia needs to go on your must-see list for sure.

 

 

Cappadocia is also a hiker's paradise.  Every day you can take a different trail and keep busy for a week.  Then there are many informal trails like the back road trail from Uçhisar to Göreme, where you will come upon improbable tea gardens in remote corners.

 

 

Deciding where to stay in Cappadocia is a matter of weighing your time, the type of transport you prefer, and whether you want to join one of the many ubiquitous tour offerings in the area.   Motor scooters to get from one town to another are easy to find and hire, but the roads are somehow less exhilarating than those world travelers might expect in more remote areas. Cars, all terrain vehicles, mountain bikes and tour guides are also easy to find.  Best yet there are very inexpensive commuter buses that go from town to town, though if you are planning several stops in a day plan to while much time away waiting for connections.

 

Göreme seems to be tourist-central in the area and may be the best place to locate if your time is short and you want to be able to walk to many inexpensive restaurants, bus connections and tour offices. 

 

 

Uçhisar, with its magical castle landmark is far less touristy.  For a feeling of secluded splendor try Kale Konak Hotel-- in a quiet cave room or an equally private room above ground-- which is right by the castle's entrance.

 

 

Ürgüp is similarly less tourist tout feeling than Göreme and definitely a place you want to make time to walk around its hills to get lost and found in areas of cave remnants and old Greek style houses. 

 

 

There are two wineries in this town and many fine dining restaurants that serve them.  If you are especially hungry try Ziggy's, where the good food and appealing surrounds will satisfy to the point of taking away your appetite for the next day's sumptuous turkish breakfast.  For a life-memorable treat meal take yourself to Ürgüp's Muti's Restaurant, where locavore gourmets can experience innovative spicing of traditional Anatolian cuisine.

 

 

Whether your interests are for outdoor activities or more relaxed hamam-enabled relaxing with wining and dining Do make time to take in at least a few of the historic attractions in the area. 

 

 

Göreme's Open Air Museum where you tour of historic sites should probably begin.  The audio guide gives a detailed accounting of the many religious frescoes created in the cave churches by the orders of hermit monks and early Christians escaping to cave cities for safety in centuries gone by. You can continue your exploration of early Christian life by visiting one of several underground cities where early Christians would hide for months at a time to evade marauding armies.  These cities dwarf Rome's catacombs, which seems like a small teaser to what you see in Cappadocia.

 

 

The sun is bright white in Cappadocia most of the time.  It is a pleasant place to just be. 

 

 

Even in the most touristy commercial strip of Göreme there is minimal harassment from touts.  Sit, eat, drink local wines, shop for Cappadocia style ceramics and other Turkish goods from rugs to scarves. . Go birding on a nearby trail.  Admire olives, grapes, apricots and more in terraced lands and every nook and cranny. Stay busy or just relax--Cappadocia is a haven for all types of travelers.

 

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Photos:  Peter Kachergis

 

 

 

 

 

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