By Almas Akhtar
Cappadocia is a region in Central Anatolia in Turkey best known for its unique rock structures, underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in the rocks.
What is so unique about Cappadocia –perhaps– is its exceptional landscape and mystical history.
Hundreds of years back volcanic mountains formed rock pinnacles known as â€œfairy chimneysâ€ which are rocky whimsical shapes. Continuous erosion created sensuous folds in the earth. It is a travelerâ€™s delight–one can admire the beautiful shapes of the rocks standing on the corner of the curvy roads around the city or from a hot air balloon ride over the city.
The beautiful Red valley and Ihlara region contain villages carved out of the lunar rock.
The hot air balloon ride offers a unique and memorable experience while giving you the time to enjoy the beauty of the magnificent landscape. Flights are usually just over an hour long and are taken at sunrise or sunset.
Argos at Cappadocia
Cappadocia underground cities are breathtaking. Some of these underground cities are found reaching up to 40 meters in depth. Only a few have been opened for tourists including the caves at Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. The underground cities were discovered mostly during the Bronze Age, it used to be a settlement mostly in Byzantine period. In this period, increasing invasions forced local residents to build underground cities for protection–and some for religious purposes.
The Goreme Open Air Museum is also a fantastic place to visit. It contains an isolated complex of around 30 rock-carved churches and chapels dating from as early as the 10th Century. The Goreme Museum offers one of the highlights of the majestic Cappadocia region. On the highest point in Cappadocia on Uchisar Hill is a castle carved into the rock offering tourists a panoramic view over neighboring areas. The village itself boasts a number of caves that have been converted into hotels–most of them were once used as storage spaces for camel caravans.
They have been beautifully transformed into world class hotels. Pigeon Valley is another popular site for hikers and tourists–it refers to the thousands of pigeon houses that have been carved into the soft tufa since ancient times. They were built on abandoned caves and churches. Pigeons were used for food and fertilizer, advancements in chemical fertilizers have somewhat reduced the need for pigeon fertilizer but some farmers still do use it.
Modern day Cappadocia is a popular tourist spot with beautiful cave hotels, restaurants and boutique shops lined around the streets. The 2011 Hollywood Blockbuster movie Ghost Rider was filmed in Cappadocia.