The Outer World: Cappadocia

15 Jan 2017
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I don`t want to go to Cappadocia – no tourist visiting Turkey ever said. Cappadocia is one of the regions in Turkey which definitely at one time attracted more attention from foreign visitors compared to Turkish people. I am saying at one time as it all changed when in mid 2000s the TV producers discovered what an amazing set Cappadocia would be for the TV shows and this discovery led to an era during which Turkish visitors flooded Cappadocia. The domestic interest in the region still persists but the source of interest changed hands. Nowadays, Cappadocia is being advertised in a manner to appeal to a younger crowd including young professionals with number of festivals offering activities such as yoga in the valleys of Cappadocia, open air concerts, night walks etc. This new way of advertisement is also coupled with the  opening of already well known Istanbul establishments in Cappadocia (e.g. House Hotel). While I am instinctually not fond of the idea of Cappadocia turning into a place dominated by upper level Istanbul establishments rather than the local ones (many other regions suffered from this sort of conversion in Turkey – one being Alaçatı/İzmir in my view), I think some Istanbul based ventures still do well in terms of understanding and respecting the particular dynamics and the architecture of the region. Some don`t.

Cappadocia Baloon
Hot air baloon ride in Cappadocia at the sunrise is a special experience

Cappadocia?

Cappadocia is located in central Turkey (in what we call inner-Anatolia region) and is easily accessible via two airports – Nevsehir Airport and Kayseri Airport (which are both about 40-50 minutes drive from the area depending on which town you stay in Cappadocia). The entire Cappadocia feels like Alice’s Wonderland – it is a geological wonder with its numerous interesting shapes formed as a result of volcanic eruptions (the most famous ones being fairy chimneys), underground cities and monasteries/churches carved into stone. Don’t worry, there are no longer any active volcanoes in the region. You can take long walks in its beautiful valleys or rent a scooter and get off the main road to visit lesser known churches (visiting churches in Cappadocia (dated as early as the 10th century) is among my favorite activities in the region). Do you remember the scene in the English Patient where Kip takes Hana inside a church and lifts her up with a flashlight to see the drawings on the walls – frescoes in Cappadocia’s churches are even more impressive and at least as atmospheric. You can watch the clip here.

Cappadocia Erciyes
View of Mount Erciyes from Elai Restaurant in Uchisar – Turkey

Which town of Cappadocia?

There are three main towns in Cappadocia where visitors base themselves in: Urgup is the most developed town in the region and this categorisation comes both with its advantages (greater selection of restaurants, accommodation fit for every budget group etc.) and the obvious downsides (being not nearly as pretty as the other two towns). I have over the course of last 6-7 years stayed in two beautiful hotels in Urgup region – namely Yunak and Esbelli and both were great with amazing views as both hotels are located in the old district of Urgup as opposed to the modern part of the town. One of my favorite restaurants in Cappadocia is also in Urgup. I love Ziggy as it has a very cozy dining area, the staff is very attentive/takes their job seriously and the food is good/reasonably priced. Then comes Goreme, which is pretty much a mecca for backpacker tourists as it is home to number of hostels and bars. My first real introduction to Goreme was when I was 19. I stayed in the town for about a week with American friends and had a glimpse of what backpack traveller life was all about as we hanged with number of Australians – I never knew of the concept of “gap year” before then. The town grew up to be a little less pretty over the years and lost part of its small town charm but it is still one of the most important places in the region particularly thanks to Goreme Open Air Museum (an area covered by monasteries and churches carved into rock – more about that in my next post).

Cappadocia Pigeon Valley
Uchisar as seen from Pigeon Valley

Last but not the least: my all time favourite in Cappadocia – Uchisar

Uchisar is about a five minutes ride from Goreme and due to its elevation level, it offers amazing views of the entire region. When I first visited Uchisar, it reminded me of the opening scene of the movie “Chocolat” where Juliette Binoche climbs through the narrow alleys of the small French town where she intends to move to with her daughter – Uchisar is also full of narrow alleys and steep climbs! This is not the only common part between the town in the movie and Uchisar as the latter is also a home to numerous establishments originally opened by French people and definitely has that french touch. During my last visit to Cappadocia with my parents in December 2016, we stayed at Les Maisons de Cappadoce composed of numerous Cappadocian style houses with amazing views and yards. The hotel – originally opened and owned by a french man – is currently managed by a Turkish couple who also owns one of the best restaurants in Cappadocia, Elai Restaurant in Uchisar. Les Maisons de Cappadoce is an ideal place if you are looking for a secluded place for relatively long stays (most rooms come with their own kitchen facilities) and for a genuine Cappadocian experience. If you ever fantisize about going away, staying alone, taking long walks in beautiful surroundings and catching up on your reading/writing a novel (why not?), Les Maisons de Cappadoce is the place for it. I am already dreaming of an extended stay at this hotel. While at it, also check out the Elai Restaurant within a walking distance from the hotel (everything is within a walking distance in Uchisar) and see if you can get the table on the balcony to catch the breathtaking views of the Mount Erciyes.

Cappadocia Goreme
Göreme in Winter

There are so many other parts of Cappadocia worth mentioning. So please take this as my introduction post about this region thatI have been to many times as I intend to write single posts devoted to each town in Cappadocia. You can check out some Cappadocia photos here.