You may not get a chance to step on another planet, but a visit to Cappadocia will make you forget you’re on Earth. It’s otherworldly, magical and nothing like anyone have ever seen before. Combining natural creation and humankind’s ingenuity, Cappadocia is a visual delight that is incredibly foreign to the eyes.
The Cappadocian landscape (or moonscape) was a byproduct of layer and layers of ashes spewed by a group of ancient volcanoes thousands of years ago. The ashes hardened into porous rocks. And over time, rain and wind erosion have carved out the soft volcanic pillars forming extraordinary valleys, and the well-known ‘fairy chimneys’.
Because of the rocks’ constant indoor temperature even in changing of seasons, people carved holes into them making cave houses, storerooms, churches and underground cities. These also served as a sanctuary for Christians who fled to Göreme during the Roman persecution.
Today, these dwellings were repurposed into hotels, providing visitors an unforgettable experience of sleeping in a cave.
It’s worth knowing that Cappadocia is a region, not a small town. Hence, the major sights are pretty much spread out, and not practical to explore just on foot. It’s also located right in the middle of Turkey so the heat of the sun can be unforgiving. You may join a tour, rent a car or take the public buses; whichever is convenient or suits your budget.
In our case, we allotted two full days in Cappadocia. On the same day after that dreamlike sunrise over a hot air balloon ride, we explored the Cappadocia region from the ground with a tour group. Named after colors, if you research tours in Cappadocia, you’ll notice that there are Red, Green, and Blue Tours which represents different sightseeing areas. We went on a Red Tour that was recommended by our hotel which covers the “Cappadocia Highlights.”
- Uçhisar Panoramic Viewpoint
- Göreme Open Air Museum
- Pasabag Monk’s Valley
- Devrent (Imagination Valley)
- Pottery Demo in Avanos
On our second day, we borrowed a map from the hotel and explored on our own. We took the minibus from Göreme to Uçhisar town. And from there, we hiked until we reach Uçhisar Castle and the Pigeon Valley. The minibusses are not as frequent, but they follow a certain schedule so you can plan your travels.
It’s quite a distance to reach Pigeon Valley from the town, but it’s doable. There are many café or restaurants along the way in case you need refreshments or shelter from the scorching sun.
Pigeon Valley is named after the many pigeon houses carved into the rocks. Years ago, pigeons were used as messengers and their droppings as fertilizers.
Cappadocia looks like something from out of this world, isn’t it?