You think you’ve stepped into a star wars movie set. Millions of years of erosion has created a lunar-like landscape; thousands of natural rock formations rise across the Cappadocia landscape, where for centuries humans burrowed into to create homes and churches.
These days the cave dwellers are predominantly tourists (like us) staying in cave hotels. I can’t recommend the Divan hotel enough. The warm and friendly atmosphere,along with impeccable service, is faultless. The highlights of Cappadocia include: its spectacular sunsets, warm and welcoming locals and taking a hike through a rose-pink gorge. The hotel provides a complimentary sunset walk (hike is more like it) through the Rose Valley. Ali was our guide, who had great knowledge of the area, showing us some wonderful cave homes along the way.
The Göreme Open-Air Museum is one of Turkey’s World Heritage Sites, where we easily spent two-hours. It was firstly an important Byzantine monastic settlement that housed some 20 monks, then a pilgrimage site from the 17th century. The cluster of rock-cut churches, chapels and monasteries is 1km uphill from the centre of Göreme. I also have to confess; this last bit came straight out of the guide book..
The underground city of Derinkuyu was incredible. The city is a labyrinth of tunnels, some so narrow and low that you aren’t sure you will fit (don’t visit if you suffer from claustrophobia). We travel down over 60m, passing communal kitchens, stables, bedrooms and churches. At certain points stone wheels are poised ready to seal in and protect the occupants. Holes above some tunnels are to pour hot oil over intruders. The city which dates back to the 7th century BC would have housed 20,000 people. All of which I still find hard to comprehend!
I could go on for pages about Cappadocia, it’s a surreal and magical spot. I am not sure if there is anywhere else on the planet quiet like it…