Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.Andre Gide
We desperately needed a winter break to somewhere slightly warmer and sunnier than UK and also wanted to travel to a place wherein we can travel visa free with an Indian passport. What best than Turkey — a place which has fascinated me for its historical monuments and also more so for its food – something which I can bet on any given day.
As for every of my other trip, I wanted to see something off the beaten road, something of a hidden gem and that’s when I stumbled upon Cappadocia in one of the posts on Facebook listed as one of the top 10 must see places to visit on planet earth. So off we went.
Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia. Honestly it felt like landing on a different planet, a fairy-tale setting on the Anatolians plains. Cappadocia is a geological oddity of honeycombed hills and towering boulders of otherworldly beauty. People have long utilised the region’s soft stone, seeking shelter underground and leaving the countryside scattered with fascinating cavern architecture.
We had booked everything this time with a budget cave hotel. Yes Cave hotel – this is a must stay while at Cappadocia – these are hotels which are actually built into these fairy chimneys. Staying in one of these cave hotels is a must do experience. We had a very friendly staff who booked everything for us – from airport pickup/drop, tours around Cappadocia and also balloon flights. If you need information about the cave hotel we stayed in, please leave a comment below with your email id and I will get back to you soon.
Other thing which Cappadocia is quite famous for is its food – Read more about my food journey in turkey – Click here.
Our first day in Cappadocia, started on a bad note as we had our Balloon trip cancelled due to heavy fog. It was really a damper but we were equally excited about the day trip we had booked to see Cappadocia at the ground instead by air.
We first head to Derinkuyu underground city– an ancient multi-level underground city in the Derinkuyu district in Nevşehir Province. Derinkuyu is Cappadocia’s biggest underground with approximately 7 floors and 85m deep. It is large enough to have sheltered as many as 20,000 people together with their livestock and food stores. It is the largest excavated underground city in Turkey and is one of several underground complexes found across Cappadocia. At places, the corridors are quite narrow with the roof being quite low.
A 30 minute ride and we were at Ihlara valley. It is a canyon with a depth of approximately 100m and was formed by the Melendiz River thousands of years ago. It is believed that the valley housed more than four thousand dwellings and a hundred cave churches decorated with frescoes. Around eighty thousand people once lived in Ihlara Valley.
The valley is 14 km long, and we were dropped off at about the 3KM point. After descending a couple of hundred stairs to the canyon floor, our guide showed us the Ağaçaltı cave church dating to the 4th century with paintings from the 10th century.
Then we were left free to walk the flat path next to the running river dotted with cliffs and embedded caves holding back their secrets. This walk was very refreshing and quite serene. With the river on your right and the cliffs to the left it never felt tiring. There were rest stops in the between which served freshly squeezed pomegranate juice and women making fresh Turkish bread in earthly ovens. After walking for approx. 4 KMs we stopped for lunch at a riverside restaurant which included soup, salad, and a choice between, trout, chicken, vegetarian, or meatballs.
Turkish food simply delights me, gets the best out of me. And the lunch here in Ihlara valley, very next to the river with the fishes swimming around and the cliffs starting down at you was one I will never forget.
Read more about my food journey in turkey – Click here.
Energised and with a broad smile, we head to our next destination – Selime Monastery – most unexpected surprise in Cappadocia is this wonderful rock-cut monastery in Selime, at the end of Ihlara valley. It is the biggest monastery in Cappadocia region with a cathedral-size church. It is thought that it took over 200 years to shape this huge monastery and it is dating back to 08th or 09th century. The monastery was able to house about 5000 people at the same time.
Our final stop for the day was the Pigeon valley where we stopped to take pictures of the valley and Uchısar rock which were shining gold with the setting sun. Also a quick snap of the evil eye tree.
On our way back, we did stop at Onyx Jewel factory with demos of carving a piece of white onyx and were left to see around the sales room. Though it looked impressive we weren’t in a mood of shopping expensive jewelry during a tour!
More flavors of Cappadocia –
We also explored further of Cappadocia on bike – Read here
Finally we were dropped back at the hotel and what an amazing day it had been. We were quiet tired towards the end but it was well worth it.
Read more about our journey in turkey – Click here.
If you have queries/feedback, please leave a comment and I will get back to you ASAP.