When we visited Turkey we didn't limit our time to Istanbul even though we could have easily stayed a couple more weeks there (and still not see everything). But we wanted to explore more of Turkey, go into the interior. So after one week in Istanbul we rented a car, crossed the Bosporus into Asia and started our "Anatolian adventure".
One area we wanted to see no matter what was Cappadocia, a historical region in Central Anatolia. Here you can find exceptional natural wonders that are characterized by fairy chimneys and a unique historical and cultural heritage. The UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of Göreme National Park, Kaymakli Underground City and Derinkuyu Underground City. Except for the last one we visited all of these places - and they truly took our breath away.
So what are these "fairy chimneys"?
The relief consists of a high plateau over 1000 meters altitude (hot summers and cold winters) that is pierced by volcanic peaks. The sedimentary rocks of Cappadocia eroded into hundreds of spectacular pillars and the people carved out houses, churches and monasteries from the soft rocks of volcanic deposits (this happened from the 4th to the 11th century). There are entire underground cities that you can visit if you feel like it (more about that in a later post).
Many of these "cave houses" or "cave apartments" are deserted today, but some are still inhabited. We could see signs of life everywhere. These places offer coolness in the very hot summers and seem to be reasonably warm in the cold winters (yes, it can snow here). I'm not quite sure whether I would like to live in such a cave, however, we did stay in a cave hotel in Göreme and it was pretty awesome (more about that in a later post).
Most of these photos were taken in Uçhisar, about 5 km from Göreme. All at once we saw these fairy chimneys rising in front of us. I just wanted to stop and explore. So we parked the car and walked down into a beautiful valley from where we could see dozens of these unique housing units. It was our first real view of this area and until the end it remained my favorite one.
The rock has a slight pinkish hue that starts to glow at sunset. It is simply spectacular and a sight that I will never forget. Except for fruit trees (apricots!) and olive trees there isn't much shade here and the sun burns down mercilessly. But you almost don't feel bothered by the heat in this other-worldly landscape.
Can you see all the "apartments"?