Have you thought about buying Cappadocian pottery as a gift or keepsake when you visit this beautiful region?
Cappadocia may have more master potters per capita than anywhere else in the world. This means that a unique ceramic pot made from the clay of the Red River in Avanos may be the perfect handicraft to remind you of the wonderful time you spent here.
For as long as people have lived along the river, they have used the rich red clay to make pots for practical use. Over time masters (Turkish: Ustas) perfected their craft, taught their children, and generations later, when tourists started visiting in droves, a healthy industry was ready to receive and amaze them.
These pottery masters make almost everything imaginable in their workshops and allow visitors an opportunity to try their hand. Can you “throw” a pot or does the process make you want to literally throw something?! Regardless, this is your chance to show off your (lack of) skills. Sitting at the potter’s wheel is fun (especially for kids) and free.
Once you are done you will want to do some shopping. The most popular pieces are the ancient Hittite imitation pieces including the donut-shaped wine bottle with its unique shape and colorful designs.
Avanos and Cavusin are the places to go if you are interested in experiencing Cappadocian pottery. If you do go, we would like to give one word of advice for those of you not attached to a big tour group. You have a choice as to which shop to give your business so make the most of it. Do not be in a hurry. Go to a few shops and check out the variety. As you get an idea of what you want, you will see that prices can vary significantly. The salesman will expect you to bargain so do not disappoint him.
Once you return home Cappadocia will always remain close at heart when you gaze upon your pottery prominently displayed in your living room.
Most visitors to Cappadocia visit the Goreme Open Air Museum for good reason. Where else in the world can you find a grouping of 1000 year old cave churches with magnificent Byzantine era paintings of Biblical scenes?
However, a significantly smaller number of tourists make it the Zelve Open Air Museum just a few kilometers away.
Which museum will you visit on your trip to Cappadocia?
First let’s get the basics out of the way.
Goreme Open Air Museum:
Entrance Fee: 30TL + 10TL for the Dark Church + 15TL parking if you drive
Audio Tour: 15TL
Location: The hills east of Goreme
What to see: The remains of an ancient religious cave dwelling community consisting of churches (with beautiful frescoes), a kitchen and dining room, storage rooms, and residences.
Zelve Open Air Museum:
Entrance Fee: 10TL + 5TL parking if you drive.
Audio Tour: None
Location: Near Paşabağ around the corner from Cavusin village
What to see: 4 ancient churches and a cave community
Only one of Zelve’s churches has frescoes which is the main reason it is less popular. However, it is four times as large as Goreme Open Air Museum covering three small valleys that butt up against towering cliffs. It was an active village until 1952 when the government moved the residents to Aktepe village due to the danger from falling rocks. The open air museum has been renovated with over 1.5 kilometers of nice sidewalks to make movement easier. With fewer visitors each guest has the opportunity to linger and explore the large area. If you have children, they will love the opportunities and freedom of Zelve. Does this sound inviting to you?
Goreme Open Air Museum, on the other hand, is smaller and more crowded which means less time to take in the wonders you will see. But, as we stated above, Goreme’s museum is unique in the world and, in our opinion, worth a visit.
Before the printed word how did the early Christians teach the stories? They painted them. The frescoes were painted over a couple of centuries and the development is easy to see. Some churches contain simple red paint and stick figures while others dazzle with full color panoramic scenes of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of the Christ.
Expect to spend about 2 hours at either museum, bring your camera, and wear sturdy shoes since the ground is uneven, and you will have to climb a metal staircase or two. Both parks have cafes and souvenir sellers. Going with a guide is an option (just ask your hotel to set it up), but the Goreme Open Air Museum has posted signs detailing each cave area as well as the audio tour available. The Zelve museum has signs as well, but they are not as detailed as Goreme’s.
In the end this decision comes down to time and personality. We recommend seeing the Goreme Open Air Museum if you only have time for one. However, if you have seen your fill of cave paintings and prefer the less crowded sites, then maybe Zelve is a better choice.
Which will you choose?
Be sure to share your opinion in the comments.
If so, you need to read this. Few things are as beautiful or will make such a Wow! impression as a Turkish rug in your home. But you want to be sure you have no regrets. This post will help towards that goal.
There are 9 characteristics to think about in the carpet buying process. The better you understand these, the happier you will be with your selection.
1. PRICE – You will be wise to have a range in mind but do your best not to let the salesman know your budget until you have seen a wide variety of carpets. The salesman expects you to negotiate and will give an opening price in accordance with this fact. Also, you can expect to pay much less in Cappadocia than in Istanbul.
2. SIZE – Your best option is to measure your rooms before coming so that you can be sure to get the proper size. Turkish rugs come in every imaginable size including hallway runners. Another option is to use your purchase as a wall hanging as many Turks do. If the salesman knows the size you want, he can better serve you. Also, he will know that you are serious and will more quickly get to the price you want.
3. TYPE – There are basically four types of carpets or rugs, but three of them are similar. The halı is the typical Turkish rug, made with a double knotting technique, that most people picture in their mind’s eye. The kilim, sumak, and cicim (pronounced jeejeem) are woven without knotting for a flatter feel without pile. They all come in various sizes, colors, and motifs. They each can be very valuable or very cheap so you will have to see which one you prefer.
4. MATERIAL – You basically have three options: wool, cotton, and silk. Actually, wool and silk are the main two but often cotton is combined with wool. Silk is most expensive and is considered by most people to be the most beautiful, but Turkish women can make beautiful works of art with wool. Most people get a wool carpet but you must ask whether it is handspun wool or machine spun wool. The handspun is better quality and more valuable.
5. COLOR – This should be simple, right? Just pick a color and be done with it. Guess again. The color plays an important role in the value of the carpet. Did they use natural or chemical dye or a mix? The easiest way to tell is how uniform the colors are. It is impossible to make the same natural color in two batches. For this reason carpets using natural dyes often have slight color changes at different ends of the carpet. Over time the natural dyes will hold the color better.
6. HANDMADE – In most shops you will only find handmade carpets. The difference is whether the carpet was handmade in a supervised workshop or by a woman in her village home lovingly making the carpet for her dowry or other practical use. The woman in the workshop looks at some designs and makes carpets knowing she gets paid based on what she completes. Workshops will be more likely to use chemical dyes and machine spun wool as well. However, the woman in the village creates something from her heart. She makes the carpet when she has time. For this reason the carpet tells a story, a valuable story; it captures a life. One more note on this: If you are unsure whether the carpet is handmade or machine made, the easiest way to tell is to look for “mistakes”. Machine made rugs are perfect whereas handmade items will have abnormalities. Especially look at the corners to see if they match perfectly. If they do, you are probably looking at a machine made carpet.
7. MOTIF/STYLE – To the foreigner the different styles or motifs seem like random patterns, but to the trained eye they are a language unto themselves. Do you see the tulip representing the one God, love and peace? Or the ram’s horn which signifies protection? How about the Anatolian goddess who gives fertility and transformation? Every shape has a meaning and a purpose. They tell a story. If you are looking at an authentic carpet the motifs will tell you what the girl valued and maybe a bit of her fears, hopes, and dreams.
8. AGE – Some very old antique carpets are in bad shape but still claim a high price. These are mainly for collectors since most people would rather not have a threadbare carpet. However, apart from hard use, the best carpets improve with age like a fine wine. The colors deepen and the shine brightens. Of course, the age effects the price (older = more expensive) so you will want to determine the age of anything you consider purchasing.
9. REGION – Even though they are called Turkish carpets, they actually originate in many different regions some of which have no relation to Turks. These regions include Anatolia, Armenia/Caucasus, Iran (Persian), Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Each have their own unique methods and colors. After a few minutes with a good salesman you will be able to distinguish the different regions’ carpets and get a feel for what you like.
Lastly, recognize that you are buying more than a Turkish carpet. These are works of art and represent a piece of history and culture. Display yours with pride in your home and enjoy telling your guests its story.
Now that you have reserved your transportation and hotel, the time has come to decide what to do in Cappadocia.
Cappadocia’s activity list is almost infinite but most people only spend a few days here and, therefore, have to decide between the top options.
Below you will find a list of the most popular things to do in Cappadocia. As you plan your days you can refer to this list to make sure all your favorites are included.
* Hot air balloon ride – This is probably the biggest draw. The opportunity to see this magical landscape from above while quietly floating in and out and around the valleys and fairy chimneys occurs once in a lifetime for most people. Be sure to schedule this early in your trip in case bad weather forces cancellations. Your hotel will be happy to help you book your trip.
* Göreme Open-Air Museum – On a hill side outside of Göreme sit a gaggle of 1100 year old cave churches with beautiful frescoes covering the walls. Expect to spend about 2 hours here. An audio guide is available at the gate.
* Underground city – Of the hundreds of underground cities lying beneath the surface of Cappadocia only a few are open to the public. The two biggest are Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı. They are massive going 100 meters underground with countless tunnels and rooms. Unlike the open air museum they have little available information so you may want to have a guide when you visit.
* Hiking Valleys – The Cappadocia landscape is littered with valleys most of which center around Göreme. Each of them has a hiking trail that leads by cliffs full of caves, fairy chimneys with remnants of former civilizations, and orchards and vineyards. The most popular are Pigeon, Love, Swords, Red/Rose, and Zemi Valley. About an hour and a half away the Ihlara Valley is actually a captivating river gorge. Pack a picnic with water, put on a sturdy pair of shoes, grab your camera and enjoy a day in nature.
* Turkish Night and/or Whirling Dervish – On one evening plan on experiencing a cultural feast. All you can eat and drink while watching a host of different cultural dances. If you can help it, try not to plan this for the night before your balloon ride as you will be up late and have to get up extra early, not a good combination for most people.
* Ürgüp Wine & Kuruyemis – If you like wine, then you need to take some time in Ürgüp tasting the different wines made from local grapes. The wine industry is quickly developing, and although it does not compete with France yet, most people enjoy the local offerings. Ürgüp has a number of places that are happy to let you sample their many varieties. Also, Ürgüp is known for the wonderful dried fruits and nuts grown and produced in Turkey. Along the main square sit a number of shops eager for you to sample their products. Be careful because once you taste their delicacies you will not leave until your arms are full and your wallet is empty!
* Avanos pottery – The red river produces a red clay that is perfect for ceramic pottery. The trade has developed around the area for centuries and there are today no lack of masters plying their trade for the many international visitors. They give free demonstrations and even allow you to try your hand at throwing a pot with no obligation to buy anything.
* Avanos Red River Jet Boat, Gondola, Cafes – Over the last few years Avanos has worked hard to develop the banks of the river that cuts right through the middle of town. You can easily spend a day playing in the park with your kids, sitting in a riverside cafe, riding in a gondola, or speeding up and down the river in a jet boat. Include this with a visit to a pottery shop, and you will not be disappointed.
* ATV and/or Horseback Riding – For a reasonable price you can rent an ATV and speed around Cappadocia’s dirt roads or become a cowboy and tour the valleys and hills of the area.
* Uchisar/Ortahisar – These two ancient rock towers provide a wonderful view of the surrounding area and are well worth the climb. The towns that have grown around them are happy to serve their visitors with a host of shops and restaurants.
* Zelve/Cavusin/Pasabag – Ancient churches, breathtaking fairy chimneys, beautiful views, and fun hikes are available in these neighboring sites.
* Sunset Point – A short hike up the hill towering over the south side of Göreme you will find a small platform from which you can watch Cappadocia’s captivating daily sunset. For couples this is a romantic opportunity not to be missed.
* Mustafapaşa – In 1923-24 all the Greek Christians in Turkey were sent to Greece (and the Muslim Turks in Greece were sent to Turkey). This mass migration left countless empty homes across Anatolia. Most of them are not recognizable anymore but in Mustafapaşa, a village 15 minutes outside of Ürgüp, you can catch a glimpse of their lives and culture.
* Various overlook points – These are points from which you can see Göreme or Pigeon Valley or various other beautiful parts of the region. These are usually included on the package tours to give visitors good photo opportunities.
* Belisirme Monastery – This amazing monastery is built into the side of a cliff that sits right outside of the Ihlara Valley. It is included on the Green Tour.
* Soğanlı Valley – Another region of the area with cave churches, hiking trails, and shopping opportunities. This area is highlighted on the Blue Tour.
* Besides the wine and pottery listed in the previous section, you can also shop for carpets and onyx jewelry. These shops are located in most every town in the region. The package “color” tours will usually include a visit to one type of shop.
Wow! That is a list. Now that you have added a few days to your trip (or started planning your return!), you need to make some decisions.
Put all of this together, list your priorities, and have a great time. Your boutique cave hotel manager will be happy to help you arrange transportation, tours, hot air balloons, or whatever you need. If you are not sure, plan on sitting down with them once you arrive and mapping out your stay. Or you can email ahead of time and work it out.
Let us know how it goes.
Many of our guests ask about the interior design and furnishings of our rooms. We thought it would be helpful to talk about that in a blog post and here it is.
Maybe the first thing our guests notice about our rooms is the almost exclusive use of natural materials. Except for the flat screen TV, wireless modem, and refrigerator in each room you will be hard pressed to find any plastic. All the decor is wood, stone, metal, and glass.
Our owners, Bulent Bey and his son Tolga, have collected antiques from all over Turkey. These have each been carefully selected for each room including refashioning pieces into the beautiful glass covered tables. This includes the old handmade Turkish carpets and even the fireplaces. If the room’s original fireplace was not usable, then we searched other old homes to find authentic stone fireplaces. And you can enjoy the fire while lounging in the antique or custom made beds with top quality mattresses in each room.
Then we used over 50,000 hand cut Saritas stones from Nevsehir for the inside and outside walls of the hotel. Of course, this does not include the marble used in the spacious bathrooms each of which is fitted with a rain and regular spray shower. Each room was kept as closely as possible to its original shape. The hotel is made up of a number of old houses that have been renovated and luxurified while preserving the basic structure.
But we have spared nothing to make our guests comfortable. The tap water is purified making it drinkable. But for those guests who are still unsure, we include 2 complimentary bottles of water in the minibar/fridge. We have also included complimentary coffee and teas and a complimentary 5 o’clock afternoon tea and cake time for all of our guests.
All of this has been done to make your time at Taskonaklar as comfortable as possible. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask.
Today Cappadocia is a tourist hotspot in the heart of Central Turkey but this has not always been the case. The human history of Cappadocia stretches back thousands of years and spans many empires.
When you visit this geological wonderland know that you are walking on ground ruled by the Hittites, Eastern Mushki, Persians, Macedonians, Romans/Byzantines, Seljuks, Karamanids, Ottomans, and the Republic of Turkey. That is quite a Who’s Who of empires!
The boundaries of the area of Cappadocia have changed through that time. At one point it extended north all the way to the Black Sea and south to the Taurus Mountains, but today it is not even an official region in Turkey. The historical name of the area has been kept for tourist reasons and what people visit today is only 150 miles by 250 miles touching five Turkish provinces (Kayseri, Nevsehir, Kirsehir, Aksaray, and Nigde).
The current name comes from an adapted form of Katpatuka which it was called by the Persians. With the fall of the Hittites around the 12th century B.C. the Eastern Mushki ruled the area. The next we hear is King Croesus, he of fabulous wealth and ill-fated oracles, who comes on the scene but is quickly defeated by the Persians in the 6th century B.C.
The Persians ruled the region from a distance, i.e. the local leaders most likely had their way as long as they did not get out of hand, until Alexander the Great defeated them. At that point somehow in the chaos of Alexander’s death, Cappadocia became a kingdom. Ariarathes I was king from 331-320. His sons followed him, and Cappadocia was ruled as a kingdom until 17 A.D. when the Roman emperor decided to make it a province. The Cappadocians had had good relations with the Romans since 188 B.C. but the Emperor Tiberius changed the status in a fit of anger at the Cappadocian king.
From that point the history of Cappadocia is rather straightforward, at least from a big picture view. The Romans gave way to the Byzantines (who were actually Romans) who controlled the area until the Seljuks moved into the area after the battle of Manzikert in 1071. The Seljuks of Rum ruled for a time until they were defeated by the Mongols and the Karamanids (from Karaman southeast of Cappadocia) took over in their rivalry with the growing Ottoman dynasty. During your time in Cappadocia, you may visit a caravanserai as they are popular on many of the tours. You have the Seljuks to thank for this. Be sure to note the unique architecture they introduced to this land. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire after WWI, the Republic of Turkey was formed and that is how things currently stand.
But in all of this changing of empires, the most striking aspect of Cappadocia, its cave communities, has gone unmentioned. The first Christians arrived in Cappadocia shortly after the resurrection of Jesus and the birth of the Christian religion. They are mentioned in the Bible on at least 2 occasions, most clearly when the apostle Peter writes them in his first epistle.
The Cappadocian Fathers, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa, played a significant role in the development of Christian theology in the 4th century. They also established the monastic communities that would survive for hundreds of years.
Islam arrived with the Seljuks and was continued with the Ottomans. Both ruling groups built mosques and madrasas, many of which are still standing today.
For most of the Ottoman days there was a mix of peoples living together, but that ended with the forced people swap between Turkey and Greece in 1923-24. You may visit Mustafapasa while you are in Cappadocia and see the remnants of the Greeks who inhabited the area.
One other note worth pointing out was the creation of Nevsehir, the provincial capital. This town was first famous as Nyssa, the home of Gregory mentioned above. Then it fell off the map and was just a small village until Damat Ibrahim Pasha became Grand Vezir to the sultan in 1718. He poured money into the region transforming his small village into a “new city”, thus the name Nevsehir which translates as new city. The mosque and hamam complex he built are still in use today.
And with that we have flown through 3000+ years of Cappadocia history. Hopefully this will make your time here more meaningful. As you trek through caves and valleys think of all those who have come before you and enjoy the legacy they have left to us.
Luxury in a Turkish Cave
By Jonathan Look
My passion is traveling the world and searching out unusual experiences. On a recent trip to Turkey, after several wondrous days in Istanbul, I wanted to try something a little different. I had dreamed about visiting Cappadocia, an enchanted place on the fabled “Silk Road” in central Turkey where stones sprout from the ground like mushrooms, cities are carved from mountains, and the winemakers have been plying their trade since before the 4th century B.C. I also wanted to enjoy a uniquely authentic Cappadocian experience, so I arranged to stay in one of the regions’ best cave accommodations; the Taskonaklar Hotel.
The thought of staying in a cave—a cold, damp, musty chamber with no light—is not on the surface very appealing, but I deferred to my friends who had visited Cappadocia and said that staying in one should be at the top of my list of things to do.
As I drove my rental car from Kayseri, through the legendary landscape of the Anatolia, I found myself traveling in a surreal painting of crumpled, terra cotta colored hills pierced by cream-colored spires. This was not the place of my dreams; it exceeded them. In the distance, I could see Uçhisar, my destination. This citadel of barren rock, the highest point in Cappadocia, towered over the surrounding plains. Just below the summit, carved into the solid rock, I could see dozens of windows peering over the surroundings, with the city itself spilled further below surrounding the fortress. I navigated my car through absurdly narrow alleyways and finally found the small sign announcing the Taskonaklar Hotel.
As I arrived onto the property I was presented with a panoramic view of Pigeon Valley below. The vista was interrupted by scores of “fairy chimneys,” skinny pyramidshaped
spires that jutted from the valley, many of which themselves have been carved by
Byzantine settlers into desert homes. I was shown to my suite and quickly discovered that, although I was going to be living in a cave carved from solid rock, I wasn’t
going to be living as a troglodyte. My suite had a huge private terrace that overlooked
the stunning surroundings, hardwood floors, a stone fireplace, Turkish rugs, fine linens, and all the modern amenities you would expect from a world-class hotel. I asked for a tour of the property and was proudly shown an establishment that shows evidence of accommodating travelers for millennia. Each suite is unique; some had ancient tandoori ovens carved into the floor while others had wine presses, and vats
carved into the rock. Others had hot tubs with unimpeded views of the landscape.
On the surface, thoughts created when you think “cave hotel,” don’t inspire luxury or even comfort, but once again, travel has altered my expectations. Not only did I get a huge helping of unique, I also received a generous measure of luxury, which I couldn’t have imagined from a cave before.
Editor’s Note: Jonathan Look, Jr. writes about life, retirement, and travel at his website LifePart2.com.
Thank you Jon for your lovely article!!
Turkish Food in Cappadocia
One of the most enjoyable aspects of visiting Turkey is the food. Turks may not be the most famous in the kitchen, but that means delicious surprises await you upon your arrival.
Coming to Cappadocia will give you no lack of opportunities to sample tasty Turkish treats. Begin each morning with Taşkonaklar Hotel’s renowned Turkish breakfast full of locally grown products. Fill your plate with olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh baked breads and rolls (poaça), honey, homemade jellies/jams, and eggs (try menemen to be really Turkish, a mix of peppers, tomatoes and eggs), and Turkish tea or coffee. That should tide you over until lunch, but if you need a snack in between we recommend pistachios from Antep or locally grown and dried apricots.
Breakfast at Taşkonaklar
For lunch the choices are all mouth watering. Begin with a steaming hot bowl of lentil soup (mercimek). For the main course perhaps you will prefer the grilled meatballs (köfte) or chicken on the skewer (tavuk shish). If not, try the Adana kebap (spiced ground beef on a skewer) or the Kuzu shish (lamb on a skewer). If that sounds too heavy, then you may want the cheese or mince meat pide (pronounced pee-day) which is an elongated Turkish version of pizza without tomato sauce. Or you can try the baked beans (kuru fasulye) and rice, which are the favorite of many Turks. Each of these goes well with an Efes Beer. Once you finish take some time to sit and chat while enjoying a cup of Turkish tea and some baklava.
Pide (Turkish pizza)
If you need a snack before dinner while you are out and about on a tour, try some Turkish Delight and a cup of fresh squeezed pomegranate and orange juice which can be found at most tourist stops.
When you sit down to the dinner table be ready for a Turkish feast. Begin with some appetizers (mezes) which could include a tomato-pepper salsa, yogurt and dill (cacik), roasted mushrooms smothered in cheese, humus, an eggplant/aubergine (patlican) salad, and fresh bread (the Turkish meze menu can go on for pages).
For the main entree someone in your party needs to order the Testi Kebab, a Cappadocian specialty. Take cubed beef and put it in a seramic pot; add tomatoes, peppers, garlic, spices, and a special sauce; seal it and throw it in the tandir oven for 2 hours. The waiter will bring the sealed pot to your table and break it open in front of you. Once the steam clears enjoy.
For the others in your party (or for the other evenings of your trip) order Imam Bayildi (Imam Fainted) which is Eggplant/aubergine stuffed with sauteed tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic, or Karni Yarik which is similar to Imam Bayildi except that it also has ground beef. Both are wonderful if you enjoy eggplant.
Wash this down with a Cappadocian wine of which Kocabağ and Turasan are the most well-known. You may be surprised at the level of quality Cappadocia wineries have achieved.
And with that you have feasted and can be rolled back to your cave hotel room. But, honestly, this is just a sliver of Turkish cuisine. We could go on and on with recommendations, but we will not except for a few items we could not fit into our perfect day.
You may be staying in Turkey for longer than 2-3 days and want to try a larger variety of dishes. In that case we can recommend a few “common” items that almost every Turk, from the lowest street cleaner to the president himself, enjoys.
A FEW MORE OPTIONS
* Lahmacun is an Anatolian specialty, truly a “food of the people”. It is usually the least expensive item on the menu. It is pizza-shaped but is thinner and has no tomato sauce or cheese.
* Simit looks like a type of bagel with sesame seeds. It is chewy and delicious, especially when it is fresh. You will find two kinds of simit. The street vendors sell a harder, darker type whereas the bakeries will offer a golden brown, softer version. Try them both and let us know your favorite.
* Gözleme is similar to a Mexican quesadilla except that it is usually square and comes in more flavors. You can get it with cheese or spinach or potatoes or onions. The bread is called yufka and is thinner than a tortilla.
* Döner comes from the Turkish word which means “to turn” and describes the way the spiced meat (usually lamb or chicken) is cooked. This is Turkish fast food at its essence and can be found on almost every street corner in urban areas. This is also called Gyro or Schwarma in other parts of the world.
* DRINKS – Two drinks not mentioned are Ayran which is a salted yogurt drink that is the staple of every child in Turkey and Raki which is an anise liquor (think liquid black licorice) made famous for being Ataturk’s favorite drink.
And with that you have enough to keep your palate happy and your stomach full. If you leave Turkey without gaining a few pounds, you have more self-disicipline than most. Consider it a way to take Turkey back home with you.
When God carved out Cappadocia, He apparently had a little trouble keeping His hand steady. For this we must be thankful.
This is made abundantly clear from the sky. As any visitor who has flown in a hot air balloon will tell you, the view of the many Cappadocia valleys is breathtaking.
But the ground is the locus from which the valleys are truly to be enjoyed. Spending at least one day hiking through a Cappadocia valley (or mountain biking if that is your thing) is a must.
In the central Cappadocia area at least 5 valleys are easily accessible. Pack a bottle of water, take a picnic lunch if you choose, wear decent shoes/boots as the trails can be slippery and/or wet/muddy in places depending on recent weather. Expect to spend 3-4 hours in most of the valleys and work out transportation beforehand since they do not go in circles but end a few kilometers from the trailhead.
This valley descends from Uçhisar to Göreme. You can go both directions but starting in Uçhisar is easier since it goes downhill the whole way to Göreme. This trail has two starting points in Uçhisar. The longer route starts on the backside of the town near the Overlook point. The shorter trail starts close to the fork in the Göreme – Uçhisar road. About 100 meters after the fork (heading up the hill from Göreme) you will see a sign for Pigeon Valley and bunch of wooden birds on poles). Once you get to Göreme look across the parking lot from the bus station, and you will find a public bus that leaves towards Nevşehir every half hour. This bus will drop you off in Uçhisar.
Across from Ortahisar a couple of kilometers down a road is a panorama viewpoint. This marks the beginnings of the multiple trails into both Rose and Red Valleys. The trails take different routes but all end in the same place near Çavuşin village. These valleys have a wonderful combination of ancient churches, panoramic views, and freaky landscape. If you happen to be in Cappadocia during a full moon, then you may want to plan a moonlight hike through this valley. Groups do this each month. It is even possible without flashlights on a cloudless night.
This trail starts on the Ürgüp – Nevşehir road not far after the Uçhisar turn off (heading towards Ürgüp). The first dip into the valley is quite steep but after that the trail levels off for most of the way except for one spot for which you need to use a rope to go down a drop off (about 15 feet but not difficult). At one point the trail splits, and you must make a decision. Go left and you will follow a little plateau with great views and no shade. Go right and you follow the lower trail through the overgrowth, past cave churches, and in and out of orchards and vineyards. Both trails end at the same place on the Open Air Museum road outside of Göreme.
Kiliclar (Swords) Valley
Right past the Göreme Open Air museum sits the entrance to this mini-valley. If you are in a hurry, this is the best choice as it is about half the length of the other valleys. Besides being shorter it is unique in its landscape as well having more accessible fairy chimneys and cave churches than the other valleys. If you have elementary-age children, this may be your best bet. It ends in the area between Göreme and Çavuşin.
This is the most interestingly named of Cappadocia’s valleys. We will leave it to you to figure out what we mean, but we do not expect it will remain a mystery once you make the trek. Love Valley is less of a trail and more of an opportunity to wonder around fairy chimneys and along the base of cliffs. This is another good one for children. Take a picnic and spend a few hours climbing and exploring.
Which Cappadocia valley strikes your fancy?
Be sure to leave a comment detailing your experiences.
Most travellers want to get something to remember the places they visit and their family and friends are happy to receive a little something as well.
So what does this mean for Cappadocia visitors?
You do not need to worry. There is no lack of options from which you can choose. The key is finding just the right item(s).
The Cappadocia shops and stands have all the normal stuff you will find throughout Turkey, often with a Cappadocia twist. Do you want a fairy chimney and hot air balloon t-shirt? How about magnets, or clay fairy chimneys, hats, bags, table cloths, or wall hangings? All of these are reasonably priced and readily available.
Perhaps you were thinking of a scarf, shawl, traditional clothing, cut glass lamps, decorations, or jewelry? Yes, you will find these in every town.
FOOD & WINE
Maybe food is the way to go. Do you like dried fruits and nuts grown in Cappadocia? How about apple tea with those special tulip-shaped glasses? Or even better, Cappadocia wines produced at one of the wineries in the area? Check.
CARPETS & CERAMICS
But if you want to spend a little more for some quality items then Turkish carpets and rugs or ceramics are the way to go. Cappadocia is a great place for carpet shopping with many shops selling handmade (local as well as from other parts of Turkey and beyond) carpets and rugs. You can spend anywhere from $1000 to $50,000.
Another excellent option is to visit a pottery shop in Avanos and pick out an Hittite wine jug or beautifully hand painted plate. Each item is a work of art.