What is Cappadocia famous for?

Cappadocia and Hot Air Balloons At Sunrise

Cappadocia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. It is located in the Central Anatolian region and offers you a fairy tale journey in Anatolian history with magnificent landscape and culture.

Cappadocia is famous for fairy chimneys, rock formations in the region that you could not find anywhere in the world, fabulous hot balloon rides, underground cities, cave churches, and houses.

Cappadocia was an important city for Hittites and many other civilizations in history. Therefore, there are lots of museums and ancient underground cities in the region. We strongly advise you to allocate time to explore all of those attractions. 

Fairy Chimneys

Fairy chimneys are the most popular tourist attractions of the Cappadocia region.  If you see the pictures of the region before visiting Cappadocia, probably you are very curious about those fabulous stone formations.  You won’t be disappointed when you visit Cappadocia. Fair chimneys look really magical.

Fairy Chimneys near Goreme, Cappadocia

These fabulous rock formations were created by volcanic eruptions and the effect of rain and wind. In the next chapter of our article, we will see more details about the formations of the fairy chimneys, but now let’s talk about what makes them fabulous, and the history of fairy chimneys. 

The Christian people in the region used these magical structures as a place of worship and home at the same time. Because these rock formations were easy to carve, they were very proper places to build churches. Throughout history, Cappadocia has been home to several civilizations. Therefore, it is possible to see the influence of different cultures in the area. In fact, you can see some remnants from the Christian beliefs and practices of these days on some of the chimneys. 

Although fairy chimneys are rock formations which could be seen in any other places in the world, chimneys in Cappadocia are a very unique example because the number of fairy chimneys in the Cappadocia region is higher than other places where you can see fairy chimneys. 

What are fairy chimneys

If we need to give an answer to this question in the simplest way, we can say that fairy chimneys are conic shaped rock forms that have rounded rocks on the top. The main reason for these interesting rock formations is the volcanic activities in the region which took place millions of years ago.  Erciyes, Güllüdağ, and Hasandağı mountains in the region were active volcanoes once.

Moreover, as it is understood by the fossils of creatures which live in the seas, we can also guess that the region was an inner sea once. According to geologists, after the volcanic activities, the inner sea was dried by lava.  In this dried area, a tuff layer was formed. 

In thousands of years, the structure of this layer changed. The main reason for that change in the structure was wind, rain, and flood.  In millions of years, this unique formation has taken its final shape. As you can see, the main actor for these unique rock formations is nature. However, human beings also took their roles by carving these magnificent rocks. 

Hot Air Balloon Flights

As we said above, Cappadocia is a unique place in terms of natural beauties.  With fairy chimneys, Göreme open-air museum, several valleys, carved rock houses, Cappadocia is one of the best natural beauties of Turkey. Therefore, it is an ideal place to have a hot balloon ride.

Hot air balloon flights in the early morning

Seeing numerous fairy chimneys from the sky would be a wonderful experience for you. As you may remember, what makes the fairy chimneys in the Cappadocia region is their great number. It is the same for hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia. There could be many places in the world where you can ride hot air balloons. However, the number of air balloons that you can see in the sky at the same time will be countless in Cappadocia. Watching other balloons in the sky would be amazing as well as watching the surface from the sky.

Things You Should Now About Hot Air Balloon Flights

Hot air balloon rides could be a once in a lifetime experience. Therefore, people who want to have hot air balloon flights in the Cappadocia region have questions on their minds. One of them is safety. We can say that hot air balloons are totally safe. First of all, balloon accidents are really rare. Balloons are really safe air vehicles. Moreover, the balloon rides in Cappadocia are supervised by the Turkish Directorate General of Civil Aviation. You can trust your pilot. If the weather conditions are not appropriate for air balloon rides, all rides are canceled by the Turkish Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Therefore, you do not need to worry about security issues. However, as you can guess, hot air balloon flights would not be a good choice for you if you have acrophobia. 

Another point about hot air balloon rides which makes lots of people curious is the best season for the balloon rides in Cappadocia. We can say that Autumn and Spring are the best seasons for balloon rides.

As you can guess, the power of wind has an important place in the working principles of air balloons. There should be wind, but it should not be too powerful at the same time. Therefore, the winds of summer and autumn are the best for air balloon rides. There is also an opportunity to have hot air balloon rides in Winter and Summer. However, cancellations are really common, especially in winter. If you have the chance, you can go for it, but our recommendation is Spring and Autumn. 

The prices are another popular question about hot air balloon rides. The expenditure of a tour is high for a tour company. Therefore, the prices are a bit high. You may need to spend at least 80 Euros for a ride. However, the prices could reduce by half in the offseason. If you want to have an unforgettable experience, we recommend you allocate money for hot air balloon rides. 

Underground Cities

As we said at the beginning of the article, Cappadocia was an important center for lots of civilizations in history. Therefore, there are lots of things in the region that you can see the remnants from these civilizations in Cappadocia. Underground cities are the most significant ones of these remnants. They are generally built by Christians who need a place to hide. According to many historians, approximately 10.000 people lived in an underground city in Cappadocia. Today, we have information about 36 underground cities in the region. However, according to trustworthy estimations, there are almost 200 underground cities in Cappadocia. You must visit as much as you can if you like to explore cultural and historical sites in different areas.

Derinkuyu Underground City

The most famous underground city in Cappadocia is Derinkuyu underground city. It was discovered in 1963. In 1967 it was opened to tourism. According to archeologists, there are 12 floors in this huge underground city. However, we can only visit the first 8 floors today. The deepest point is 177 feet (54 meters) underground.  If you think about the conditions of the age this city was built, you can understand how amazing this underground city is. Its name comes from the water wells in the 196 feet (60 meters) underground.

Derinkuyu Underground City

When you explore this underground city you will surely notice the stone gates. These stone gates could only be opened from inside, and these were the major points in the defense system of the underground city.  In the first and second floors of the underground city, there were mainly stables and storehouses.  On the third floor, you can see the missionary school which was one of the most significant features of Derinkuyu Underground city.  There is also a cemetery and a church. On the fourth floor, there are shelters and a dungeon.  On the 5th floor, there is a tunnel that connects the 5th floor to the 7th floor.  On the 6th floor, you can see the remaining part of this tunnel. The 7th floor is the largest place in the underground city. There is also a church, water well and a large hall there. On the 8th floor, you can see the air well in a small room. If you want to get amazed by the architecture of the antique times, you should visit Derinkuyu underground city. 

Kaymaklı Underground City

Kaymaklı Underground city is also a magnificent underground settlement in Cappadocia. The foundation of the city dates back to 3000 B.C.E. The city was built in the Hittites era. Then, Christians improved this underground city by carving rocks to hide from the Roman persecutions which was a Pagan Empire at that time. The fourth floors of Kaymaklı underground city are open to visitors.  Like Derinkuyu underground city, you can see churches, storehouses, halls, tunnels, water wells, cemeteries etc. You can also see stone gates as you see in Derinkuyu underground city. 

Özlüce Underground City

Özlüce underground city is in Özlüce village, Nevşehir. The name of the underground city comes from the village. Özlüce underground city is also similar to Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu underground cities. However, there is only one floor in this underground city, and the floor is larger than the floors of other underground cities. 

Other Underground Cities in Cappadocia

As we said above, there are several underground cities in Cappadocia and only a limited number of them are open to visitors. If you like exploring cultural and historical places, we advise you to visit other underground cities that are open to visitors. The other famous underground cities in Cappadocia are;

  • Özkonak Underground city
  • Mazı Underground city
  • Tatlarin Underground city
  • Sivasa Gökçetoprak Underground city 

Cave Churches and Houses

Cave churches and houses are also popular tourist attractions in Cappadocia. As we said, Cappadocia was an important place for Christians to hide and to worship. Because the rock formations in Cappadocia were easy to carve, they built underground cities, churches, and homes there. It is possible to see some of those churches in Cappadocia today. 

St. John The Baptist Church

St. John The Baptist church is the largest cave church in the region. The church is located in a town known as Cavusin. The history of the church dates back to the 5th century. It is also possible to see some of the frescoes in the church. 

Nicephorus Church

This church is also in Cavusin. It is also known as Cavusin church. This church was built about 964-965 C.E. Unfortunately, the narthex of the church is not standing today. However, you can see tunnels and several fabulous frescoes in the church. 

Hacli Kilise (Church with the cross)

Hacli kilise is in Red Valley, which is one of the most beautiful and popular valleys of Cappadocia. Because the church is located on a hill, it offers you a great landscape of Cappadocia.  The church has one nave. The most important feature of this church is the perfect acoustic. 

Other cave churches you can visit in Cappadocia are;

  • Uzunlu Church
  • Church with the Three Crosses, 
  • Four Columned Church
  • Dark Church, Apple Church, Snake Church and many other churches are located in Göreme Open Aır Museum

As well as churches, you can also see cave houses in Cappadocia. People lived in cave houses for centuries in the time of different civilizations. You can see cave houses in the underground cities that we mentioned above.  You can also see some cave houses on the surface, which were built by carving the rocks. Some of the cave houses are serving as a hotel today. Therefore, you can stay at a cave house if you wish!

Is Cappadocia worth seeing ?

The answer to this question will depend on your expectations from a trip. If you like to visit a place which offers you historical and cultural sites, and lots of natural beauties that you cannot find anywhere in this world, you must visit Cappadocia. You can explore the underground cities, cave houses, and churches there. Moreover, it offers you a great landscape with numerous fairy chimneys and beautiful valleys. You can also take a hot balloon ride, and watch this magnificent area from the sky. However, if your expectation from a visit to Turkey is beautiful beaches and turquoise water, the shores of the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea would be a better choice for you. If you ask our opinion, we strongly recommend you to visit Cappadocia. 

Rock Formations in Pasabag Valley

How many days is enough for Cappadocia? 

3 days would be enough for Cappadocia to explore many places in the region.  You can visit the Göreme open-air museum, fairy chimneys, lots of valleys and underground cities. You can also take a hot air balloon ride. If you like to visit all the underground cities, walk-in all valleys and visit all the museums, staying for 5 days would offer a more relaxed trip for you. 

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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