A divine experience, even for those who follow no religion, or who don’t believe in a Deity. That’s how we can describe a visit to historical Cappadocia, a tourist region situated in Turkey, more precisely, in central Anatolia – in an area of approximately 15 thousand km2, between Aksaray, Hacibektas and Nigde. With a population of under a million inhabitants, Cappadocia has unique geological formations – thanks to the local volcanoes that were active for over 8 million years – and a vast touristic treasure with its underground cities and dwellings that are a part of the rocks they were built on.
For tourism, as well as for living, the cities of Göreme and Uçhisar are indicated, as they have the best restaurants, as well as nightlife and several options for shopping. There is also Ürgrüpe , since from there one can rent a car or private transportation and reach a Cappadocian attraction in less than 30 minutes, thanks to roads that are well signalized and well preserved.
An important tip for visitors is using appropriate footwear, such as comfortable tennis shoes, and being physically fit. The mission of visiting the hollowed out constructions, as well as the valleys, sometimes requires crouching, besides lots of hiking. Do not forget to take lip balm and a bottle of water, especially in the months from April to October, when the heat is intense and the weather quite dry.
Balloon rides in Cappadocia
Although quite expensive, with prices for groups of 12 to 24 people ranging from €120 to €250 (individual), flying in a balloon in Cappadocia is worth the investment for an unmissable experience. The feeling of peace and connection with nature is due, mainly, to the flight schedule – between 5:15 a.m.in June, and 6:58 a.m. in December – when the visitor can watch the sunrise and an immensity of blue in the sky from high up in a balloon. The flights, which take from 45 minutes to 1 hour, only happen under ideal weather conditions, so save more than one morning to try.
Göreme National Park and rock sites in Cappadocia
Immortalized by UNESCO in 1985, the Göreme National Park, besides being a World Heritage Site, is Cappadocia’s most famous area. Besides holding several religious constructions, the park is also enchanting for its natural landscapes. Also declared World heritage Sites by UNESCO, the rock sites of Cappadocia (Karain, Karlik, Soganli, Yesilög, the underground City of Kaymakli and the underground City of Derinkuyu) hold shrines hollowed out in rocks, and many examples of Byzantine art. With constructions from before the 4th century, these sites show underground dwellings, villages and towns.
The churches of Cappadocia
“George is from Cappadocia. Hail to George”, says the song by Jorge Ben, referring to the birth of Saint George, a Roman soldier in Emperor Diocletian’s army, who is venerated as a Christian martyr, and is said to have been born in Cappadocia. For no less than this, the region is the cradle of several churches. The main one, Tokali Kilise, was built at the beginning of the 10th century, over the structure of another church, and is the most fascinating church in Göreme. Other religious buildings that deserve a visit: Elamli Kilise, Azize Barbara Kilisesi, Yilanli Kilise, Karanlik Kilise, and Çankli Kilise. Besides that, near the Open Air Museum, there is the Chapel of Saint Daniel, as well as San Ustasin Kilisesi, Sakli Kilesi, Meryam Ana Kilisesi and El Nasar Kilisesi.