Cappadocia – Destination of the Month (Dec ’16)

Cappadocia, Turkey

Is this Earth or Mars?

When I first set foot at this land of fairy chimneys, I couldn’t believe my eyes. In many ways, Cappadocia is the reason why I started travelling.

Cappadocia is a place of surreal beauty—sculpted by complex geological formation which started with volcanic eruptions and followed by 60 million years of erosion from wind, rain, snow, rivers and rock fissures.

While the conic-shaped rocks grace most postcards from Turkey, don’t let it fool you into thinking it’s everything Capadoccia has to offer.

In Honey Valley, for instance, you can find layers of volcanic tuff which looks like whipped cream. In the aptly-named Imagination Valley (Devrent), you can find animal shapes from camel, snake, seal, dolphin to bunny! And if you fancy something more X-rated, you can’t go wrong with the penis rocks of Pasabag.

Life finds a way, even in bizarre topography

Hiding behind this land of psychedelic beauty are rich prehistoric settlements.

As many as 36 multi-level cities lie buried underground, the largest of which (Derinkuyu) sheltered up to 20,000 people! They were used by early Christians as protection from Muslim Arabs during the Byzantine period.

Numerous troglodyte villages and churches have been built by cutting out rocks, leaving behind fascinating caves with frescoes. These homes have complex networks of stairs, tunnels and passages—the tallest of which is the 1,350-meter Uçhisar Castle.

Unchisar Castle, Cappadocia, Turkey

For every time I thought I have seen Cappadocia, a new turn reveals another Martian landscape, another eye-opening experience which challenges my preconception of what Mother Nature could look like.

Destination Scorecard

1. Uniqueness: 20/20 — A true geological oddity with alien-like landscape.

2. Aesthetic: 18/20 — Carved through million years of erosion, Cappadocia never falls short of mind-boggling vista.

3. Integrity: 13/15 — The area is well-protected and development remains respectful to its cave living tradition despite increasing tourism activities. Unfortunately, natural factors have eroded some of the famous frescoes.

4. Significance: 8/15 — A notable testament to the harmonious interaction between Byzantine settlement with dramatic land forms, as observed through the troglodyte villages and underground towns.

5. Shelf Life: 15/15 — Plenty of trails to explore and each of them has something different to offer. The region’s generally slow-paced atmosphere also makes it a homely place to stay for long.

6. Access: 15/15 — Generally good infrastructure at affordable cost. As it gains popularity, Cappadocia is now served by multiple daily flights via Kayseri Airport.

Destination Score: 89/100

Do you agree with the score? Click here to find out how it compares with other destinations and learn how the ranking system works.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. 89/100 is pretty good, and I really loved this place, so I think it’s a fair score! For me, the locals there made this place supremely magical. See you there one day?


    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      I agree. The friendly locals do make me want to stay longer in Cappadocia. 🙂


  2. I guess Turkey is not M.E. =)


  3. TrotterHop says:

    These pics look like they came straight out of a fairy tale!
    Do you think 4-5 days in Cappadocia is a little bit too long – or is it enough time to see everything (and relax a little?)

    Thanks – great read 🙂



    1. Hi Mick, there are 3 main routes which you can take in Cappadocia:

      – Red Cappadocia Route: Red Valley, Cavusin Village, Pasabag Fairy Chimneys, Avanos, Devrent, Urgup Fairy Chimneys, Ortahisar Castle
      – Green Cappadocia Route: Goreme Panorama, Derinkuyu Underground City, Ihlara Valley, Belisirma Village, Yaprakhisar Panorama, Selime Monastery, Pigeon Valley
      – Blue Cappadocia Route: Ortahisar Castle, Urgup Fairy Chimneys, Mustafapasa Old Town, Soganli Valley, Sahinefendi Monastery, Taskinpasa Monastery

      So 4-5 days is possible, if you do 3 full days of tours, then arrival and departure date with some relaxing time.


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