Cappadocia is a stunning area of lunar rock formations. The area is also famous for its carpet-weaving, wines and the distinctive red pottery of the Avanos area. Cappadocia was a refuge for the early Christians, who escaped persecution by living and worshipping underground. There are an estimated 3000 rock churches in this region, not all of which are open to the public.
The village of Göreme itself is at the heart of the area's tourist attractions. Many of its villagers still live in cave dwellings, some of which have been converted into pensions. Surrounding the area are the amazing rock formations known evocatively as Peri Bacalari or 'Fairy Chimneys'.
Located to the west of Niğde, is the marvelous Ihlara Valley, a gorge which is 10 km long and some 80 meters wide. Popular for trekking, about 12 of its 60 churches are open to the public including the impressive Egritas Church.
There are hundreds of underground cities in the regions. Two of the most impressive are Kaymakli, which has 8 levels, and Derinkuyu, which reaches down to 55 meters. Fleeing persecution in the 7th century, the Christians, building these underground cities, created a self-sufficient environment underground including bedrooms, kitchens and storage rooms.
The Hattis, followed by the Hittites, Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, and Ottomans were all enchanted by the allure of Cappadocia and left their marks. The famous Silk Road which traversed Cappadocia east, west, north and south created a heavy traffic. The region was a complex web of historical and cultural influences. Cappadocia was the place where different faiths and philosophies met and influenced one another. Frescoed churches and dwellings carved into the cliffs extend from Ihlara Valley, which is 40 km from Aksaray, and as far as 14 km to the town of Selime. Some of these structures can be dated back to as early as the 4th century A.D.
WHAT TO SEE
The splendid scene of the town of Uçhisar, seven kilometers from Nevsehir has an appeal that is irresistible. From the heights of the citadel, you have a magnificent and unrivalled view of the whole region.
Göreme and its environs, located ten kilometers from Nevsehir, are thought to have been used as a necropolis during Roman times by the inhabitants of Venessa (Avanos). The Göreme region is often referred to as the "belief centre". The Göreme Open-Air Museum is where the "educational system that unified all the ideas of Christianity" of St. Basil the Great and his brothers, was born. In the Tokali church, the Convent of Monks and Nuns, the Chapel of St. Basil, and the Elmali, Yilanli, Karanlik, and Çarikli churches, the architectural details and frescoes seem as alive today as when they were when they were new.
Ürgüp, near Göreme, is a famous city with wines, as its historical places and natural beauties. Whether your wine is served to you in a rustic earthenware pitcher or an elegant crystal goblet, it will be an experience that you'll never forget. Although some local winemakers have adopted modern techniques of wine-making, there are still many that remain faithful to the ancient and time-proven methods.
Six kilometers south of Ürgüp is Mustafapasa (Sinasos), a town justifiably famous for its splendid stone works. The Chapel of St Basil is decorated with motifs reflecting the Iconoclastic system of thought.
In Avanos, located 18 kilometers from Nevsehir, there is a tradition of pottery-making that has been alive since Hittite times.