Modern day Cappadocia, which takes its name from the Persian word ‘Katpaktukya’ (translated as ‘the land of beautiful horses’), really has to be seen to be believed. With its enchanting, lunar-like landscape you will feel as though you have stepped into another world.
The landscape was formed after ancient volcanos erupted and covered the land in a layer of ash with harder stone on top. Over the centuries it was eroded and carved away by wind and water, resulting in the unique valleys, pillars and other rock formations present today.
The history of the people of this region is just as interesting as the landscape. Cappadocia bears the footprints of the Hittites, the Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans. It was home to early Christians, who, in their attempts to flee persecution, built a labyrinth of more than 100 underground cities and churches cut into the rocks.
Approximately one third of these underground cities have been excavated, with several of them open to visit. Two of the most popular are Derinkuyu Underground City and Kaymakli Underground City. Up to eight stories below ground, visitors are amazed to find accommodation for both humans and animals, places of worship, wine presses, ventilation shafts, and lots of tunnels, complete with big stone wheels to roll in front of the entrances during an attack. Providing you don’t get claustrophobic in a confined space, a visit to an underground city is not to be missed.
Above ground, many of the valleys in the area are dotted with teeny tiny churches and chapels, many of them decorated with beautiful frescoes. The World Heritage-Listed Goreme Open Air Museum is probably the best place to appreciate these. It was originally a Byzantine monastic settlement, and home to approximately 20 monks. While you are here, make sure you see the nearby Tokalı Kilise (Buckle Church), which is just 50m down hill. It is one of the biggest churches in the area and features an underground chapel and lots of fabulous narrative style frescoes.
Cappadocia also offers plenty to see and do for those into nature and physical activity. Choices include horse riding, quad bikes for hire or a hike through one of the many stunning valleys. But of course the most popular activity is a hot air balloon ride.
Cappadocia is one of the best places in the world to take a hot air balloon flight. You’ll be mesmerised as you drift over this incredible landscape, at times floating beside the fairy chimneys.. It’s a truly magical experience and most of our guests declare it to be the highlight of their trip.