The world’s best-kept secret is a place that seems like it’s directly created from your dreams. Found in the Anatolian region of Türkiye, Cappadocia boasts one of the most intricate and surreal swooping topography on the globe. Naturally crafted by the erosion from rain, wind, and ice for millions of years, the rock structures are flickered across the region and, because of their stature and prominence, have been described as ‘fairy chimneys’ to visitors and locals alike.
If it’s not already on your bucket list, a colourful hot-air balloon ride through the Fairy Valley is a must-do. With the cascading sunrise occurring below, the flight spans a minimum of one hour, bringing you through the rock formations to see the unique and natural lunar landscape. Below, the carvings made by the locals of the Anatolian region can be seen, creating an ‘open-air’ style museum that has been passed down from generation to generation and shared with visitors and friends alike. Across Cappadocia are a number of underground cities that are integral to our world’s history — like the underground cities of Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu which homed thousands of people, including the early Christians. In some of these regions, visitors have the chance to stay in one of the famous ‘cave hotels,’ dwellings that are made of natural wonders and shaped to unique perfection by those wanting to keep the natural feel of the place.
Various valleys are prominent throughout the area, including Paşabağ Valley (“Monk’s Vineyard”), Zelve Valley, and Devrent Valley. All possess stunning views of the fairy chimneys with famous churches and other longstanding historic landmarks appearing throughout. Situated in the valleys is the Göreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985. The museum was first used during the Roman times as a necropolis by the inhabitants of Venessa, a place of monastery life between the 4th and 13th centuries CE. Inside explorers can view pictures and carvings of biblical scenes, showing just how long these places were home to so many across centuries.
As the “land of beautiful horses,” Cappadocia encourages travellers to see the sights on the back of a horse. As an experience that is true to the history of the region and can bring visitors back thousands of years ago, horseback riding across Cappadocia gives way to not just seeing, but appreciating, the intricate details found across the area. Better yet, excursions happen throughout the day — giving visitors a chance to see Cappadocia at night as the full moon’s shimmer provides light. Hiking and cycling trails that are prominent throughout Cappadocia also provide travellers with the ability to ‘time travel’ through stunning natural landmarks, historic churches, and necropolises. For art lovers and wannabe craftsmen, embedding oneself into the rich culture of Cappadocia is seamless by taking part in a pottery-making workshop. Pottery making, in particular, has been around since the era of the Hittites, just another timeless aspect of the Cappadocia region.
To indulge is to truly immerse in Cappadocia culture. A well-established winemaking region, the rich taste of Cappadocian wines is due to its famous vineyards full of Emir grapes to the tuff formed by the volcanic activities. In true Cappadocian fashion, barrels and bottles of wine are stored in the volcanic rock structures as a makeshift wine cellar. The delicious delicacies to pair with your wine can be anything from tarhana soup, consisting of yogurt, flour, and grated vegetables, and is one of the dishes that is devoured over the winter season. The Cappadocia favourite ürgüp baklava brings together baklava dough and sherbet to create a sweet treat post-dinner.
Some of us dream of visiting other worlds — to escape real life and immerse ourselves in something completely new and unseen by our eyes. That place exists in Cappadocia — an otherworldly place that allows all of us to live the fairytales and daydreams that we fantasise about.