Cappadocia is an amazing place in Central Turkey, about 420 miles away from Istanbul, way up in the mountains. The name Cappadocia means “place of the beautiful horses,” however, that’s not what Cappadocia is known for nowadays. Today, it’s known for two main things. First, it’s the hot air balloon capital of the world. Second, it’s known for its honeycomb boulders, also called “fairy chimneys.” We have loved exploring this beautiful place. The churches, caves, and amazing landscape are breathtaking. It’s truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Cappadocia is known for its “fairy chimneys,” which are tall, cone-shaped rock formations clustered in Monks Valley. They’ve also been called cotton castles and were formed from a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. They’ve been shaped over the years by weather conditions such as wind, rain, and snow. They’re truly a sight to see. These huge rocks are everywhere as far as you can see. Another interesting feature is a lot of the formations have holes in them. They’re dwellings people lived in for hundreds of years. Until about fifty years ago, most of the dwellings were inhabited by people, including our tour guide Benjamin, who grew up in one of these caves. He said he even had television and running water with plumbing in the cave he lived in, which is pretty cool!
There are over six-hundred beautiful churches scattered throughout the caves and dwellings in Cappadocia. The Göreme Open-Air Museum encompasses the best-known religious complexes in the area. Alongside the other rock sites of Cappadocia, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Unfortunately, the Mongolians came in and destroyed a lot of things when they took over the area in the 13th century. Many of the churches are over 1,500 years old.
They say there are so many churches sprinkled throughout the area, that they have no idea if there are more they haven’t discovered yet. One of the churches they have discovered is called the Dark Church, which they didn’t find until about six years ago. They were able to finally uncover the church when a piece of rock fell off of one of the dwellings and exposed the front of the building. Everywhere you go you’ll see many truly magnificent murals. The most amazing part is that these murals used to be part of cities, churches, and homes. Now they are displayed for tourists and locals to come and admire them and the history they represent.
In Cappadocia, we explored a super cool shopping district, which was an outdoor bazaar. If you didn’t know, a bazaar is an enclosed marketplace where you can buy or sell goods and services. There were so many cool things to look at. They had a ton of shops, cafes, and art. The shops were selling various things such as souvenirs, antiques, glass, and jewelry. A few of the shops included beautiful, bright lamps and colorful, fun carpets as you can see in the photos below. It was a lot of fun to browse the merchandise and learn more about the culture.
Not only is there beautiful scenery and religious history that dates back thousands of years, but they also have a lot of local food that’s good. A few local favorites include rice wrapped in grape leaves and Testi Kabab! One of the coolest things about Testi Kabab is it’s served in handmade clay pottery. They set the bottom of it on fire and then crack it open to serve you the delicious stew inside. It’s a phenomenal and great-tasting meal. We have had such an amazing time exploring Cappadocia. This place is super unique and wandering through the caves and dwellings was so fun! We even got to explore camels, as you can see in the photos below. That was such a cool experience. I would highly recommend stopping here to explore if you are traveling through Turkey.
Thanks for joining me on this wild ride of exploring the world. I love sharing all my experiences with you. I hope one day you enjoy these spots as much as we have. If you want to know more about me and my passion for traveling, you can read more about me here.
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Big Guy Big World is a travel blog, following Mark Jacoby’s journey as a big guy on a bigger journey, exploring the world during a global pandemic. Follow along as we experience some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places.