Have you ever been to a place where words are not enough to describe its beauty? Where you feel like it is straight out of your childhood dreams… Cappadocia is one such magical land. The best way to describe Cappadocia’s landscape is actually Moonscape because it really looks otherworldly. Its unique beauty is nothing like anywhere else on this planet.
You may not ever get a chance to visit another planet, but a visit to Cappadocia will make you forget you’re on Earth! The landscape of Cappadocia is strikingly similar. A little research on the Internet informed me that George Lucas actually wanted to shoot there, but he didn’t get the permission so he picked Tunisia instead.
As if the name itself wasn’t magical enough! But honestly, this is what adds to the magical character to this place. Cappadocia is a unique historical region in landlocked Central Anatolia. It is most distinguished for the extraordinary spectacular rock formations and eroded volcanic rock tuff landscape that was formed millions of years ago, the collective work of lava spluttering volcanoes eroded over time by wind and water. They are called fairy chimneys, and once you arrive in Cappadocia you can spot them almost everywhere if you hike or drive around!
During my recent visit to Turkey, I had the privilege to visit this weird place. However, weird can sometimes be truly beautiful. Cappadocia’s weird landscape is what makes it magical. Its strange beauty is unique and I doubt if you will ever see a place like this anywhere else on the planet. Perhaps Mother Nature was on LSD when she created Cappadocia.
Of course, I had seen pictures of Cappadocia before I arrived in Turkey, but I was not prepared for the magnitude of it all. I mean, when you visit a destination that is famous for its landscape, it is usually limited to a part of the city, or maximum the full city itself. But this is WAY more than that. It may sound funny but my jaw actually dropped lower than usual as soon as I saw outside the window. My mouth stayed open in a weird way even when I got off the plane and sat in a bus to my hotel. Yes, it is safe to say that I fell in love at the first sight with Cappadocia.
One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Cappadocia’s moonscape is by flying over it. Yes, it’s expensive but Cappadocia is one of the cheapest locations in the world to experience a hot air balloon ride. It may be cheaper than most but it is definitely the most beautiful one. A hot air balloon ride experience is a must do in every single Turkey itinerary. It normally costs around €200, which includes a pickup, breakfast, the ride itself, champagne and a drop back to the hotel. There are many tour operators that offer this but since it can be risky, I suggest you pick the best.
Cappadocia is stunning not just above the surface, but also beneath the ground. Cappadocia contains several underground cities, largely used by early Christians as hiding places before they became a legitimate religion. They were created many centuries ago and some of them are more than ten levels deep. And no, these were not just used as temporary places of shelter but people lived here permanently. Wow!
Red Valley is Cappadocia’s most beautiful natural wonder. This elusive landscape is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Goreme National Park and home to iconic fairy chimneys, historic cave dwellings and expansive views of the vibrant red rock that gives the valley its name. Red Valley is actually a series of interconnected valleys and is fairly easy to get to. It is located just outside of the popular town of Goreme. The journey takes approximately 15 minutes by car.
Another must-see location is Pigeon Valley. It takes its name from the multitude of small pigeon homes carved in the valley’s rock face. While taking a casual Cappadocia hike through the valley, you will witness pigeon caves, arid landscapes, and other abandoned rock dwellings and churches.
Because Pigeon Valley Turkey enjoys a convenient location between the main tourist towns of Goreme and Uchisar, it is frequently ventured on foot. But if hiking is not for you, the valley comes with a couple of great panoramas for photography, too.
Finally, one must not fail to see Uchisar Castle. It stands proudly as the highest point in Cappadocia and is a short 10-15 minute drive from Goreme. It’s the finest example of a historic cave home and is an amazing sight even when seen from a distance.
Technically two neighboring “fairy chimneys”, Uchisar Castle has been used as both a watchtower and a defensive castle for around 2,000 years – the Romans even mounted enormous trebuchet slingshots to defend it. By the 16th century, around 3,000 people lived in its warren of rooms—and it remained inhabited until the 1960s.
Cappadocia is one of the most beautiful ancient areas in Turkey, and if it isn’t on your bucket list, then it should definitely be! Whether you’re just visiting Istanbul or going on a road trip in Turkey, I highly recommend taking the time to visit Cappadocia because this is one of those places on earth that really is unlike anywhere else. You will be rewarded with unforgettable memories of one of the most unique places I’ve ever seen. Trust me, Cappadocia, Turkey is worth the hype!