Cappadocia is a real wonderland which amazes with its unique beauty and history. Stunned by the pictures of the incredible, detailed landscape and the hot air balloons flying over head, I made my way to this wonderful place…

Millions of years ago, Tuff, a type of rock made of volcanic ash, was deposited here after being ejected into the air from volcanic eruptions. The different colours and degrees of hardness resulted in the formation of several new layers. The wind and the elements washed away the soft material and the tougher material remained. Through this natural process, breathtaking valleys with so called fire chimneys were then formed. The very ones that make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. “I’ve not seen anything like this anywhere else in the world”, is just one of the many statements made by visitors to Cappadocia, which I hear time and time again. As a matter of fact, the type of rock formations that we find in Cappadocia are unique and simply fascinating.

Cappadocia is easily accesible from all over Turkey. For example, you can fly to Antalya or Kayseri and then from there you can quite easily get to Cappadocia by bus. Those who have already travelled through Turkey will know that travelling with the luxury buses is the number one mode of transport and will get you cheaply and comfortably from place to place.

Overview of Cappadocia

A fascinating history | Places with unique cave architecture | Walk through Cappadocia  | Hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia | Extraordinary accommodation

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A fascinating history – the first settlement

When I think back to the detailed cave temples that have been beaten into the rock, I’m still hit with the feeling of fascination. There was already a community here probably as early as 7500 BC and the settlement of different people and dominions has changed throughout the course of time. A very important and obvious settlement is that of the Christians. Cappadocia was one of the most important early Christian settlements and stood under Byzantine rule until 1071. Christians even lived here into the 20th century. The Christian past is particularly evident from the 3000 churches. As many Christians were persecuted and the people living in the area were often attacked, the inhabitants hollowed out the tuff to effectively hide themselves in it. So, the cave dwellings and cave churches were formed, which are either burrowed into the rock or even partially underground up to ten floors deep.

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Intriguing places in Cappadocia

One of the most well known places in Cappadocia, which also happens to be a national park, is Göreme – a place which is characterised by a unique type of cave architecture. Equally, nothing compares to the underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu which were uncovered by archaeologists just a few years ago. In Göreme there is the open air museum which you can visit during the day for just 25 Turkish Lira (converted to about €8/£7). In the open air museum there are around 150 cave churches with frescoes (wall paintings) as well as “living rooms” embedded into the rocks. The latter you absolutely have to see because you won’t find anything like this anywhere else in the world and it’s truly incredible that at some point in time people actually lived in these caves.

Alongside Göreme National park, there is also another open air museum in Zelve. The difference between Göreme and Zelve is that Zelve is almost entirely made up of caves. Three valleys are located in this pocket of land in which many churches, industrial areas, living quarters and a large monastery complex can be found. Derinkuyu, the most famous underground city, and Kaymakli are massive former underground cities with many floors. Alongside these two underground cities, it is assumed that there are 50 more cities of this type. If time wasn’t an issue, I would really like to go on the hunt for them.

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Valleys and ravines

Near to Göreme national park is the Rose Valley area. This place received the name “Rose Valley” due to the many rosey pink rock formations that you can find here. Rose valley is also well known for being the hottest place during the summer in all of Cappadocia and moreover for the fact that wine is made here. Wine has been produced here from as far back as the Byzantine time, so you can now work out where the grape church got its name from. In the valley itself, there are some more churches from the Byzantine era, among them the most famous of the region, the Ayvali church. There’s a very walkable trail that goes through the Rose Valley into the so-called Red Valley.

Ihlara Valley also offers a fairytale-like backdrop and is ideal for hiking. The route is about 15 kilometers long and it goes about 150 metres into the valley. The valley lies south west of Cappadocia and is home to 50 rock churches and numerous cave buildings. The valley was also a settlement area for Byzantine monks.

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Hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia – an amazing experience

Up to now, I’ve never been left so speechless on one of my trips. I really have to say that this hot air balloon ride was one of the most beautiful experiences that I’ve had on any of my trips around the world. So astonishing, so fascinating, so unique.

Early in the morning, a large flame is ignited accompanied by a loud noise and lifts you off the ground as you head up to the lilac clouds. As you stand in the basket you fly higher and higher. Along with 100 other balloons, you hover above the rock formations in the biggest airspace for hot air balloons in the world and have a spectacular view of the entire region. No matter where you look, you will be riveted by this experience and the breathtaking beauty that we have on our planet. The sky is littered with colourful balloons as the sun slowly rises higher and higher. Around 1,300 passengers gaze at this breathtaking backdrop daily. You get a real shock when your pilot flies just a few meters from a steep cliff face, through a narrow opening between two mountain peaks and also partly goes in and out of the deep valleys and ravines. After about an hour the journey comes to end and you slowly make your way back to the ground. These unforgettable and heart warming memories will stay with you for your entire life. I recommend so many fascinating places in my articles that are really worth visiting but this experience is so high up on my personal recommendations list!

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Extraordinary accommodation in Cappadocia

One of the many eventful and beautiful things in Cappadocia are the hotels, as some of them are situated in actual caves. Yep, you heard right, not only can you visit the caves but you can actually sleep in them as well. Furthermore, there are some wonderful restaurants with views of the valleys. So that your stay in Cappadocia is just perfect, I’ve found a few truly extraordinary and wonderful places to stay. And by the way, at night the peaks of the cave houses glow beautifully. First of all I’d like to present my favourite hotel, the Hezen Cave Hotel in Ortahisar. From here you can easily visit all the important places in the surrounding area because the location of the hotel is just perfect. The hotel costs around €145 (£129.79) a night which makes it one of the most expensive places to stay in Cappadocia but it’s totally worth it because it is just absolutely beautiful there. Just the unique furnishings and the terrace with a view alone justify the price.

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I’ve also found a few amazing places to stay on Airbnb – and they’re considerably cheaper. One of these is the Divan Cave House Bed & Breakfast, which is located on a quiet street in Göreme. Here, you’re just a short distance from the centre of Göreme and can even go and discover the valleys in the surrounding area by foot. From your room, you have a gorgeous view of the rock formations and you can even breakfast on the terrace whilst you marvel at the hot air balloons flying above you. Simply beautiful. :) For a night here you would be looking at a converted price of €78 (£69.94).

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From the terrace at the Anitya Dublex Stone House you have a superb view of the town and the rock formations of Ortahisar. Furthermore, there is a free shuttle bus that will take you from Ortahisar to Göreme. A night here costs around €100 (£89.61). The next one is a super sweet family run place in Göreme that only costs €45 (£40.30) a night and you also get a delicious buffet breakfast every morning. On the balcony, which is surrounded by flowers, you can enjoy a relaxing breakfast in the morning and then sit back with a glass wine at night after an eventful day.

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Maybe Cappadocia is already on your list of places that you definitely want to see? If not then quickly put it on your list. If some of you have already been there, then I would love to hear some of your personal experiences. It’s always great to get the odd insider tip – so let me know!

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