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Cappadocia, Turkey Guide

Cappadocia, Turkey is the historic area of central Anatolia bounded by the towns of Hacıbektaş, AksarayNiğde and Kayseri (map). It was known as Cappadocia in ancient times, and is still called Kapadokya informally today.

Cappadocia is Turkey's most visually striking region, especially the "moonscape" area around the towns of ÜrgüpGöremeUçhisarAvanos and Mustafapaşa (Sinasos), where erosion has formed caves, clefts, pinnacles, "fairy chimneys" and sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rock.

Although the volcanic landscape can appear inhospitable, the mineral-rich soil is excellent for growing vegetables and fruits, making Cappadocia a rich agricultural region. It has always been one of Anatolia's prime grape-growing areas, and still boasts many productive vineyards and wineries.

The Bible's New Testament tells of Cappadocia, but in fact this part of central Anatolia has been important since Hittite times, long before the time of Jesus.

What to See & Do

Prime activities here are visiting the historic painted cave churches of the many monastic valleys (especially the Göreme Valley and Zelve Valley), flying in a hot-air balloon at dawn above the incredible landscape, hikingthe volcanic valleys (especially the Rose Valley[Güllüdere]), and spending the night in a comfortable cave hotel room with all the modern comforts.

Here are the highlights of what to see and do in Cappadocia. Here's a list of the towns of Cappadocia.

For an excellent full-day excursion, drive to the surprising underground cities at Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı and the formerly Ottoman-Greek mountain town of Güzelyurt before taking a hike of several hours in the Ihlara ValleyMore...

You may also want to spend a half-day hiking the less-visited Soğanlı Valleys of southern Cappadocia, south of Mustafapaşa.

Another great excursion is to the Byzantine Iconoclastic rock-hewn monastery at Eski Gümüşler near Niğde. More...

Guided Tours

Public transport in Cappadocia is not well suited to sightseeing. You may want to rent/hire a car. If not, luckily there are numerous good guided tours of the region. More...

Here's a list of good Cappadocian travel agencies that can arrange guided tours, car rentals, car-and-driver, flights, and any other services you may want.More...

Where to Stay & Dine

Many travelers want to stay in a Cappadocian cave hotel, and there are plenty of good ones. Other types of hotels are also available. Here's the full Cappadocian hotel and restaurant picture.

—by Tom Brosnahan

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