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Cappadocia – a Natural Wonder

Term “Goreme” is related both to a region in Cappadocia (central Anatolia) and to homonymous town, which used to have a variety of names in the past – Korama, Matiana, Maccan and Avcilar. In accordance with diverse names that were attached to the city, the Goreme region features an outstanding diversity of natural formations. However, it is hardly a beginning since there are various sanctuaries hewn inside the rock formations, both residential and religious

 

Goreme is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, and there is a wide range of activities that could be enjoyed. For example, a balloon ride is a remarkable one of them. 

 


The region is best known for its Open Air Museum, which is located within a walking distance from the town center or Göreme. Although it can be considered as a small town, there is much to see and do here and tourists spend a few days or sometimes weeks in the area, which abounds with diverse interesting tourist attractions. 

Although modern tendencies and development of tourism had their impact on the area, a great deal of authenticity is still preserved, and is obvious at the first sight. Goreme is conveniently located near major transportation hubs of Cappadocia, such as Kayseri (around hour and a half by car), Urgup (around 20 minutes), and Nevsehir (15 minutes), thus easily accessible, and highly recommended for stopping by, even if you haven’t included it in your plans. But we can say that it’s a little bit far away from biggest touristic places of Turkey such as İstanbul, Antalya and İzmir. You can take tours to Cappadocia from your holiday destination or you can plan a plane trip to Ankara (and visit Ankara for a day or two) or Kayseri and then take a bus or rent a car from that destinations.

Goreme (Cappadocia) was initially “discovered“ by backpackers that traversed the central Cappadocia, becoming subsequently a significant tourist destination. The town disposes of boutique hotels, various restaurants, leisure, relaxing (hammam) and shopping facilities. Especially the hotels are worth being seen and they are fully authentic!


Some of the most recommended hotels of Göreme regarding prices, location and services could be listed as:


Hidden Cave Hotel


Sultan Cave Suites


Doors of Cappadocia Hotel


Arif Cave Hotel

Mithra Cave Hotel


Most authentic products you can find in Cappadocia are carpets, pottery, handmade ceramics and unusual stone pieces. Hamam towels, for example, are more reasonably priced when compared to big tourist centers, such as Istanbul, Antalya, Marmaris and etc.

This is how you “hang” around Cappadocia!

By the way; most popular activity in Goreme is hiking, with various attractive paths and trails taking you through spectacular landscapes; hiking is best enjoyed when temperatures are not especially high (summers here tend to be very hot) due to insufficient cover from the scorching sun. Hiking should also be avoided after the rain because there are narrow areas along paths that can be slippy a few days after downpours, which are rather rare. But one fine thing about being caught by rain while walking around is there are millions of caves that you can protect yourself from the rain. You can enjoy exploring the countryside on your own, or through travel agencies, which organize various tours in the area and out of it. 


Most recognizable features of the Goreme are its rock formations, which are similar to obelisks, pillars, towers or any other shape you find convenient. It is also called a Love Valley. Pinnacles dominating the Love Valley are naturally formed, impacted by winds, rain and erosion; these natural masterpieces are up to 40 meters high. At the top of each “tower“ is a layer of a hard volcanic stone, which protects, in a manner of speaking, the softer layer underneath from erosion. Eventually, however, even these mighty capes collapse due to long exposure to weather conditions. The popular name for these giants is “fairy chimneys“, and they can be seen in various shapes and sizes. 

Yes, any shapes that you may imagine 🙂
And if you wish, you can meet new friends over there!

Exploring the Love Valley can easily be enjoyed on your own, but you need to be in good shape; hiring a local guide might prove desirable, not because you might get lost (which you cannot), but because of an extra value added to your tour. 


Another recommendable thing to do is to hire a hot air balloon, which takes you over this quite unique site. The experience is a bit above marvelous. (The price is around 250-300 $ per adult. Generally 0-6 years old childs are free and 6-12 years old childs are half price) 


As we mentioned before; Goreme Open Air Museum is another distinctive feature of the Goreme National Park, which proved to be an advanced monastic community that created residential and religious facilities throughout cavities of enormous rocks. Although it is recorded that the community was established in the 4th century AD, during the reign of the Roman Empire over these regions, most remaining vestiges were originated between the 10th and 12th centuries. The Open Air Museum is located approximately 15 minutes by walk from the Goreme town center. 

Main features of the Goreme Open Air Museum are more or less preserved frescoes, dining rooms with tables and benches carved out of the soft volcanic stone, and some other interesting architectural details and decorations of a “cave-dwelling” society. Although a good deal of Byzantine frescoes was ruined during time, a great effort is put into restoration, with spectacular results as an outcome. The admission fee into the Open Air Museum is 25 TL (Turkish Lira) (approxiamtely 10 $), and working hours are from 08:30 to 19:00, with the exception during winter time when the museum closes at 17:00. Entrance to the Karanlik Kilise (Dark Church) is additionally charged 12 TL. (somewhere around 5 $)



There is a number of churches and chapels throughout the museum, with the Dark Church, the Buckle Church, the Apple Church, the Saint Barbara Church and the Snake Church as the most significant ones.

The Dark Church consists of the main apse, two side apses and four columns. It was created in the 12th century, and its walls depict various scenes from the New Testament. Journey to Bethlehem, the Last Supper and the Crucifixion are some of them. 

Tokali Kilise or Buckle Church is the largest one in Goreme; it consists of four chambers, named the Old Church, the New Church, the Lower Church and the Parraclesion. Tokali paintings illustrate the life of Jesus in detail, as well as various scenes from the Bible.

Elmali Kilise (Apple Church) derives its name from the today non-existing apple orchard that occupied the entrance, featuring cross-in-square plan, four columns and a dome. Various saints and martyrs are represented by paintings, including Christ and Abraham. 

 

Geometric patterns, symbols and mythological animals are the main motifs of the Saint Barbara Church (Azize Barbara Kilisesi). It features a cruciform plan.

Yilanli Kilise (Snake Church) is named after a fresco depicting St. George killing the snake. The church features a low ceiling and the long nave. Christ, Emperor Constantine, St. Helena, St. Onophrios and St. Theodore are some of other represented personalities.

 

Cave homes could also be visited by means of tours organized in spring and autumn, but the number of places is limited and tours take place only a few days each year. Also take into account that there are numerous stairs along the way. 


Although growing into a significant tourist attraction, Goreme isn’t crowded with tourists at all, which additionally contributes to the authenticity of the place and relaxed atmosphere. The best time to come to the visit would be from April till June, and September to November, due to moderate temperatures for activities Goreme is known for. Give it a chance, and your initial expectations will be widely exceeded. 

 
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