Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia Ballooning – Valley of the Chimneys

Cappadocia in Turkey is an underground fantasyland of fairy chimneys and churches. The astounding geological beauty of Cappadocia is a wonder-destination of Central Anatolia. It is an extensive island district, where nature and history mix-match most beautifully. This fantasyland has so much to offer ranging from ‘fairy chimneys’ and churches cut out of soft rock formations to some amazingly intricate systems of tunnels and underground cities. It is an exotic diversity found in the crucible of culture where East meets West!

Cappadocia – Goreme Village by Traces in the Sand. The amazing and bizarre village of Goreme, literally cut from the strange rock formations of Cappadocia.

Nestled in the center of Anatolian peninsula, Cappadocia has become one of the most notable tourist destinations in Turkey. The uniqueness of the region was formed by the eruption of Mt. Erciyes and Mt. Hassan, some 60 million years ago that spread a thick layer of ash over the area. With time, this hardened into a soft porous stone known as tufa. Coincidentally, the erosion by rain and wind created valleys in the soft rock that left behind higher sections of interesting formations known as ‘fairy chimneys’.

Village in Cappadocia

Cappadocia boasts of several underground hidden cities and intricate tunnels that were mostly used by early Christians as hiding places. The inhabitants could hide thousands of people and animals within these complexes, which had wells, chimneys, stables and even tombs.

Goreme – Celestial Canopy

The region was a Roman province and the refuge of persecuted Christians during the early days of the Roman Empire. For most of the Byzantine era, it remained relatively undeterred by the conflicts in the area, first with the Sassanid Empire and later against the Islamic expansion led by Arabs. Though the early Christians are credited with the building of this mysterious supercity but some historians believe that few parts date back to the end of the Ice Age – 9500 BC.

Church carved from rocks by early persecuted Christians

The people living here used heavy rolling stone doors to prevent invaders from entering. They dug deep wells for water, and constructed tall chimneys for ventilation. Surprisingly the inhabitants even curved highly structured churches, wine presses, oil storage, cooking-places out of the rock so that they could live for weeks underground until it was safe outside.

Fairy Chimney Hotel in Göreme


Cappadocia has dozens of underground cities, but the most elaborate ones are at Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. One of the most fascinating areas is Goreme, which accommodates an open-air museum that stands visually striking with its ‘fairy chimney’ volcanic cones. Surprisingly over 30 of the best-preserved churches of Cappadocia can be seen here. Avanos is another pretty town on the Kizilirmak, where inhabitants make their living from the malleable river clay for years, shaping everything from pots and roofing tiles to statues and more.

The huge and sprawling Selime Rock Monastery was carved out the rock by Christian monks in the 13th century. A steep climb is the only way to access it.

Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are known as Capadocia’s deepest and the most elaborate underground cities. Kaymakli was cut out of volcanic soft stone (tufa) as deep as 300 feet during the period covering sixth to the tenth centuries. The underground city of Derinkuyu is estimated to have twenty floors, out of which only eight can be visited today with an estimated capacity to bear 20,000 people.

Kaymaklı underground city

Map of the underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia, Turkey.

Soganli valley, Uchisar, Zelve, Urgup, witnesses some splendid scenery and age-old rock carved churches and chapels that are unique geographical, historical and cultural features. The pigeon valley between Goreme and Uchisar offers spectacular views of the natural cliffs and some fabricated caves, passing through few tunnels, carved within the rock. Nearly 35 multi-level complexes including the networks at Ozkonak, Derinkuyu and Kaymakli have not yet been fully explored.

Kaymakli underground city

These subterranean towns with carved out rock caves, pointed termite mounted looking structures has a supernatural feeling and it is almost magnificent in all directions. These cities were abandoned in late 14th century.

Pigeon Valley

Central Turkey. Pigeon valley

The stunnig village of Uchishar at sunset

The Past and the Present – Pigeon Valle