Cappadocia - Abbey Travel, Ireland

Begin Your Search

    • 16+ yrs

    • 12-15 yrs

    • 2-11 yrs

    • 0-23 mnth

Found Item

Welcome to Cappadocia


Cappadocia occupies the centre of Turkey, the region between the Black Sea in the north and the Taurus Mountains, between the capital Ankara and the city of Malatya to the east. Famous for its spectacular natural rock formations and valleys, Goreme National Park, as it is known today, is strewn with underground cities, stone chapels, monasteries and dwellings that were hewn out of the weirdly eroded volcanic rock from as long ago as 400 BC.

Thousands of years of wind and rain erosion on a landscape of soft volcanic stone topped with hardened larva caps has created a fascinating landscape of rock cones and pinnacles that are known as 'fairy chimneys'. The Valley of Fairy Chimneys is the most popular area, roughly within the triangle formed by the three main towns of the region, Avanos, Urgup and the main transport hub of Nevsehir.

Outside the triangle to the south are the remarkable underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, where layers of tunnels and an intricate system of caves hid generations of settlers and sheltered early Christians fleeing persecution. The Ilhara Canyon is another religious hideaway with more than 100 painted churches and about 4,000 dwellings carved into the rock walls or concealed within the cliffs; its river bed and lush vegetation stand in stark contrast to the dusty, seemingly barren land above.

Cave dwellings, ancient monasteries and painted chapels are well camouflaged, with entranceways that are barely noticeable among a landscape of perforated cliff walls and rock fissures. Houses of volcanic stone blend unobtrusively into the natural surroundings, pigmented in natural shades of ochre and yellow, to pinks, greys and greens, and many people still inhabit the cones and chimney formations. In tourist towns such as Goreme, delightful little hotels and pensions are built partially into the rock or are housed within a rock cone and offer cave-style rooms.

Information & Facts


Cappadocia has a continental climate characterised by hot dry summers and cold snowy winters. Rainfall is sparse and the region is largely semi-arid to arid. April to June and September to October are the best months to visit Cappadocia. There is a sharp difference in the temperature between day and night and it is not uncommon to have freezing cold nights interspersed with scorching hot days. The average temperature during the summer months is 23°C (73°F) while winter's average is much lower at -2°C (28°F). Cappadocia is much cooler and drier than its Mediterranean and Aegean counterparts, which are more popular tourist destinations.

Turkish is the official language, but English is widely understood in the main tourist areas.

The official currency is the New Turkish Lira (TRY), which was introduced on 1 January 2005, whereby six zeros were dropped from the TL and the sub-unit New Kurush was created. Currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange booths, post offices, airports and ferry ports; banks have the worst rates and highest commissions, but will exchange lesser known foreign currencies. Banks open mainly Monday to Friday, but some are open daily in tourist areas. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas, but Turkish ATM keypads usually do not have letters of the alphabet on their keys. Most bank branches have ATMs which accept Cirrus and Plus. Major credit cards are widely accepted; the most popular are Visa or MasterCard, but American Express is accepted in many of the more expensive places. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at some banks and currency exchange offices, but are not as welcome as cash or credit cards. US dollars or Euros are preferred. Some pensions and hotels in the most popular destinations accept US dollars as payment.

The small town of Goreme is situated in the middle of the Valley of Fairy Chimneys, surrounded by the eerie shapes and fantastic rock formations that have made the region famous. It is one of the few remaining villages where fairy chimneys and rock-hewn houses are still inhabited, and several pensions, restaurants and cafes are carved into the rock. Its biggest attraction is the Goreme Open-Air museum with over 30 beautifully frescoed Byzantine rock churches. The town makes an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding rock formations, villages, vineyards and attractions. For shoppers, carpets and kilims are plentiful.

The Goreme Open-Air Museum is the most visited of the monastic communities in Cappadocia and is one of the most famous sites in central Turkey. It is a complex comprising more than 30 rock-hewn churches and chapels containing some superb frescoes, dating from the 9th to the 11th centuries. Inconspicuous from the outside, the interiors are characteristically Byzantine with a central dome and a floor plan in the shape of a cross. The three columned churches, the Elmali, Karanlik and Carikli churches are the best known, and are superbly painted. The largest and best preserved is the Tokali Church, its interior walls covered in some of the richest frescoes in the region depicting scenes from the New Testament.

Central Cappadocia was overlooked by most as a dusty, infertile and barren landscape, making it a perfect refuge for the early Christians who established the first Christian communities here. They carved chambers, vaults and labyrinthine tunnels into the soft volcanic rock for use as churches, stables and homes. Of the 40 underground cities and settlements discovered in the area, Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are the biggest and most interesting, inhabited by Christians fleeing persecution in the 7th century and hiding from Arab invasions. These cities were well-hidden complexes, a safe and self-sufficient environment that could accommodate up to 30,000 people. The most thoroughly excavated is Derinkuyu, consisting of eight floors with stables, a school room and dining hall, churches, kitchens, living quarters, wine cellars, store rooms and a dungeon. Original airshafts still function and the maze of tunnels and rooms are well lit. Kaymakli is similar but smaller with only five of its levels having been excavated so far.

} ());
ACCEPT COOKIESTo give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies. Using this site means you agree to our use of cookies. We have published a cookies policy, which you should read to find out more about the cookies we use. View cookies policy.