The History of Cappadocia
The History of Cappadocia Turkey, begins with the arrival of man after the Lava had cooled more than 10 000 years ago. It is defnitely one of the most beautiful places on planet earth and famous for the best Hot air balloon ride you will ever experience.
A bit of History
In 1958 on the northern plateaus of the Taurus mountains, J Mellaart discovered remains of an ancient civilization. Excavations carried out during 1965 revealed a nine-ten thousand-year-old Neolithic settlement.
In BC 333, Alexander the Great occupied the southern part of Cappadocia and after appointing a Persian, Sabiktasas by name continued south on his great campaign to conquer India. Later Ariarethes, supported by the locals became the King of Cappadocia. Although he extended the borders of his Kingdom to the Black Sea in the North, one of Alexander stepsons marked into Cappadocia and seized control.
This Mysterious Captivating Magical world, with different Fairytale landscapes and extraordinary Churches and Caves, decorated with frescoes of the Byzantine Era is extremely beautiful. The unique Valleys with amazing caves, Hills, and Underground cities, discovered not so many years ago, will leave you breathless. After all, you can experience it for yourself as there are many ways to reach this captivating place.
Distance Istanbul to Cappadocia
The distance between Istanbul and Cappadocia is about 735 km.
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Ways to get to Cappadocia
Traveling by Air is obviously the most convenient way and will take about an hour. I can recommend Travelstart for great specials and service and not to miss out on the best prices, contact Travelstart now!
- By car, it will take you approx 8 hours 40 minutes plus another hours drive from Erkilet airport to Cappadocia.
- Rent a car, or
- Take a bus. To not waste time, you can book the Night bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia who takes about 10 to 12 hours and you can sleep on the bus. Latter will be your cheapest option.
Istanbul to Cappadocia day Trip
Firstly, it is possible to take a day Trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia, therefore, you cannot afford to miss out on seeing this magical fairytale world. For instance, you can fly out for a day or two by going to Travelstart here. Secondly many tour Companies have offers although it will cost you should you decide to take a day-trip only. Trips ranges approx 15 hours and will cost more or less $390.
One of the Companies you must check out for a variety of options, is GetYourGuide.
Istanbul to Cappadocia Flight
Kayseri Airport (ASR) is the closest to Goreme. Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport (NEV) is an approximately 45 minutes drive to Goreme. Make 100% sure of the specific Airport when booking as you don't want to miss your flight. Flights from Istanbul to Cappadocia is very reasonably priced, especially when booked well in advance. After all, there are two Airports in Istanbul (relatively far apart). Flights leave daily to and from Cappadocia. We use trusted partner Travelstart for specials and best options.
Various bus Companies travel daily to and from Istanbul, Pamukkale, and Antalya. You can take the overnight bus to Antalya. there are many bus Companies however we used Kamil Koc and was very disappointed. First, make sure about the stops to your destination as we had a very bad experience with Kamil Koc. The bus driver refused to stop when we needed to use a bathroom. No one wants to be uncomfortable for 5 hours.
Booking.com offer many options, from Luxury hotels & cave suites to Backpacker hostels, the choice is endless.
To not miss out on Accommodation specials, Book now!
Get a variety of Guides to Cappadocia here!
Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon
A Highlight not to miss!
A ride in Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon is undoubtedly an incredible Highlight and I still believe the best place in the world for a Hot air balloon experience. The view is undescribable and don't miss this once in a lifetime experience to discover Cappadocia from the Air, especially during Sunrise. The breathtaking 360-degree view is worth every penny. The Hot air balloons fly the whole year (weather permitting), including when there is snow.
Hot air balloon ride Cost
Different options vary from the group size and on the packet you take. There are about 25 Hot air Balloon Companies, and prices range from $ 100 - $150 per person for a standard flight of 60 minutes. You can opt for a smaller group and/or longer ride at a higher price.
For specials and excellent prices, you can get many options and specials from GetYourGuide! Make sure to book well in advance to not be disappointed to hear that it is sold out. A Hot-air-balloon ride over Cappadocia is a once in a lifetime and unforgettable experience. Make sure not to leave it for your last day as the weather can be unpredictable. Then you will at least have a second chance.
What to pack?
Warm Jacket, Gloves and a hat.
Camera equipment and spare batteries.
The Company you've arranged with, will usually pick you up very early and drive you to a venue where you will enjoy Coffee and a light breakfast. After a short safety briefing they will drive you to the launch site where dozens of Balloons get ready for taking off.
After preparing the Balloon, you are allowed to take your stand, and then your off to go up in the air. The driver turns every few minutes to ensure you get to see everything possible. My advice is the best spot is at the back.
Now that you're convinced, for all options and excellent specials, Book now with GetYourGuide.
The Best Sunrise in Cappadocia
*From a Hot Air Balloon
* Sunset point in Red Valley near Orthahisar
*At the Fairy Chimneys in Love Valley or Zemi Valley
*At Ortahisar Castle
*Panorama point near Urgup
*Hotel Rox Cappadocia
Other Towns & Attractions
Nevsehir was founded long before the birth of Christ in Central Anatolia in the valley of Kizilirmak on the slopes of Mount Kahveci. This town is in the heart of Cappadocia and founded by Hittites, called Nyssa more than 3000 years ago. Nevsehir is 9 miles from Urgup Museum and there are top hotels should you decide to spend a night or two. For the best Accommodation in Nevsehir go to Booking.com here.
Disclaimer: Some of the links on this page, are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission should you click-through and make a purchase. We only recommend products and services we trust.
What to eat?
Truly the Best Apricots in the whole wide world, trust me! Make sure to make a note to buy extra packets for your loved ones back at home, for gifts and for yourself of course.
In fact all the fruit and veggies in Cappadocia is not only fresh but organically grown. Their rich soil produces not only excellent quality but als big in size. Figs, Pomegranate, Strawberries, you name it and the chances are you will find most of it there.
Delicious Grilled Chicken, Fish, Kebabs, varieties of freshly baked bread and the best mouthwatering Baklava. Make sure to buy some to feast on while you wait for your transport to Goreme or where-ever you off to.
JESUS was 30 when he began teaching the word of God in Palestine and crucified upon the accusations of Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Jerusalem. Soon after His death, Jesus disciples left Palestine to spread the lessons of Christianity in different regions.
There are at least 600 churches made out of soft rock in this region. Some of the most beautiful and exotic fairy chimneys of Cappadocia are in the ZELVE region. Many Fairy chimneys are in groups and are about 16-20 m in height. A few churches and monasteries can be found here. These Zelve villages bear evidence that Christians and Muslims once lived together.
Winter in Cappadocia
Snow starts to fall around December and January and the temperature then falls easily to minus 15 c degrees. The snow usually lies up to 40 cm deep and makes a beautiful sight. Mostly it covers only one side of the chimneys. Cappadocia is magical when layered in snow and this is also the cheapest time to visit.
Winters in Turkey is surely a Land that turns into a Snowy Heaven. Personal preference, I prefer summer days rather than getting cold but believe it is surely a picture out of a fairytale world.
The town of Uchisar, located about 8 km from Nevsehir is one of the destinations for travelers. Uchisar is a settlement in Cappadocia and attracts many visitors for Uchisar Castle, the tallest Fairy Chimney, visible from a far distance. The town is 7 km east of Nevsehir.
Uchisar offer excellent Accommodation. Check out prices at The Museum Hotel & Others here!
This Village was famous for the Christian priests, houses, and churches and built between the 1st and 10th century. A church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, can still be seen here today. Midway between Goreme and Avanos is Cavusin.
There are twenty names for Monks Valley. Here you will find the most perfect sunset cafe in the Red Valley. The Red Valley Panorama lookout is a 15-minute drive out of Goreme. It is near Orthasir From Bilal Eroglu `cd, you turn right on Muze cd for 3 Km, pass the Goreme open air museum and turn left onto Nevsehir Urgup m Yolu/D302 for about 4 miles.
Turn left on Dr. Zeliha Berksoy Blv and drive down the long road with a guard station in the middle. You will reach a park where you will have to pay an entrance fee. There are many viewing points in the area but this one is the first on the route. One of the best lookouts you will find here at Kizilcukur Seyir Tepesi.
At Monks valley you will find the perfect view of the valley while relaxing on cushions or a couch, next to little wooden tables. What more do you want? The scenery will without a doubt, be an unreplaceable memory that surely will last forever! Their Cafe serves wine, beer, and snacks. Take cash as they don't have card facilities.
Accommodation in Cavusin
Ortahisar is a small town used as a shelter during the times of Christians. From the top of the castle, the beauty of Göreme is visible. In this town, the sources of income for the locals are Wine making and Carpet Weaving. Look here for a variety of Accommodation and best prices.
About 1 km off the Zelve turn on the Avanos road you will find some multi-coned, and some tall Fairy Chimneys. Love Valley is 4 km long and located north of Avcilar. You could hear the chirping birds, and that is the reason for calling it LOVE VALLEY.
Pasabaglari is famous for it's perfect Fairy Chimneys and Mushroom shaped rock formations. Here you will find the famous Love valley and is not to be missed. I've read that at Pasabaglari, there are triple coned fairy chimneys, hollowed out and used as two rooms. One was apparently used as a seclusion room by the 5th-century hermit St Simeon. For accommodation in Pasabaglari have a look here!
First called Osiana, is one of the richest towns in the province of Nevsehir. At an altitude of 1800m, Urgup is on the Kayseri road about 20 km from Nevsehir and 7 km from Goreme. Urgup is famous for its Handcrafts, kelim- and Carpets as well as a winery. And guess what? During 1963 a mobile Library, on the back of a donkey, took books from Village to Village, how amazing! For a variety of accommodation and specials go here!
Avanos, in antiquity times, was called Vanessa, which means the City on the river. The town is about 15 km from Nevsehir and is famous for its terra-cotta products. You'll find many Pottery factories and products and Carpets to buy here.
Avanos is 6km from Goreme National park and within 16 km from Ozkonak underground city. Kizilirmak river (Turkish for Reid river) and also known as the Halys river, is the longest river in entire Turkey. Turkish pronounced Red river. Like most places in the area, it is well worth a visit. For specials on Accommodation in this lovely town, go here now!
Famous for its houses attracts many Foreign- and Turkish tourists. Back in those days, the town was populated by Christian Greeks until the population exchange by Turkey and Greece. Mustafapasa is located in a valley about 5 km south from the town Urgup.
Here you will find distinguished architecture built houses. Mustafapasa called Sinason by the Christian Greeks that populated the town until the exchange between Turkey and Greece. One of the Monastery is now used as a hotel. 1Km from the town you will find the Church of St Basil, interesting and beautifully carved out of a rock. For the best accommodation & prices go here!
There are about 150 underground settlement areas within the area but only 36 (up to now), can qualify as underground cities. Others were discovered but are more underground houses holding a few families. Up to now, it has not been determined yet how those people turned these cities into the locations we see now. How long it must have taken them I can only imagine.
To think of the cold winters they had to endure in these rock formations 'called their homes' is beyond my imagination. These Christians flew from Arabic and Sassanid threats after Cappadocia was conquered by Byzantine Empire. It is clearly visible in some of the underground cities that the rooms located near the entrance are different.
These cities did not have a front door but similar to hand-carved caves, covered by debris and stone placed with defensive purposes. The stone doors were placed afterward and manufactured outside the caves where they are to found now.
Ozkonak Underground city
Ozkonak is about 12 km north of Avanos on the road to Gulsehir. In 1972 Latif Acar was working in his garden when he discovered this underground city. The Municipality of Ozkonak excavated, cleaned up and open it to the public in 1973. As in all the other underground cities, stables, wineries and millstone doors were found here.
Derinkuyu Underground City
Located on the main road, about 50 km from Nigde and 29 km from Nevsehir you will find Derinkuyu underground city. I've read that Derinkuyu had a population of 7000 according to a census of 1986. This amazing city was discovered by chance and was opened to the public in 1965.
The Hittites, the Romans, the Byzantines as well the Pro-Hittites lived in this 8-story underground city, which is considered to be the 9th wonder of the ancient world by the visitors. There are 36 other underground cities discovered in the Cappadocia region where early Christians stay and worship freely, away from persecution. The hiding places and tunnels were on the third and fourth floors.
I've read that in times of persecution, they escaped through these tunnels. A shaft on the third floor reaches the underground city of Kaymakli, 9 km away. It is believed (so I've read), that a tunnel on the 3rd floor once reached the underground city in Kaymakli, 9 km away. Apparently, there are about 450-500 underground cities under the town of Derinkuyu and about 600 openings leading down to those.
The underground city covers an area of 4 km square and is considered to be big enough to house 2000 families. The average number of inhabitants of this underground city was roughly about 10 000. Amazing as considering the limited technology available hundreds of years ago.
It just shows how much Human ingenuity and manpower can achieve. Exactly 100 000 workers apparently worked for the construction of the Pyramids in Egypt. One can only imagine how many people worked hollowing out the Derinkuyu city and how many lost their lives. I have great admiration for them as the circumstances they lived in, was surely difficult.
Although I've experienced Cappadocia myself and quote the famous research -writer Omer Demir from his book 'Cappadocia', Cradle of History by research-writer Omer Demir.
Mazi underground city
Mazi is a little Village in Cappadocia located by a stream about 8 km east of Kaymakli. There are about 30 tombs on the side of the hill; four of them have columns and are very interesting. Numerous Chapels and Churches were built in the hill above the village and along the stream of Bagirsak.
It is hard to distinguish the different floors of this underground city and access can be difficult because some places have collapsed and is caved in dirt. Although the village is in good state it is one of the historic places that should be publicised.
Kaymakli Underground City
Kaymakli was discovered and opened to the public in 1964. It is Cappadocia’s most extensive underground city. It has access points to the tunnels from the parts where they use to store food and used as cellars.
It consists of 8 floors and is open to the public. In fact, Kaymakli is more prominent and not as claustrophobic as Derinkuyu. I suggest you make use of a tour leader for this expedition as it will make it more enjoyable and primarily because there are exciting things he will show out to you.
How to get to Underground cities?
The cheapest way is the following:
Take a bus to Nevsehir where you take a Minibus (Dolmus) to the Underground city. If not pre-arranged, you can get a guide at the entrance if there is still guides available. Therefore I suggest you pre-arrange it with GetYourGuide for the best prices here!
EXPLORE CAPPADOCIA ON YOUR OWN
4 Magical days in Cappadocia
To explore Cappadocia on your own is possible. If possible, I recommend at least four days as there is so much to see in this fairytale world. In fact, four days is not enough.
If you are short on time and want to see the most for the days you have available, rather fly out to Cappadocia. If time allows it, fly out the very same day you arrive in Istanbul. Why waste time to go to your hotel, spend the night and waste time the next morning to catch a flight.
Arrange with your Hotel for a pick-up at the airport and you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery of this awesome place. We arrived in Nevsehir late afternoon and the beautiful unusual scenery is difficult to explain. You have to see it yourself to understand what I mean. Arriving and see Cappadocia at night is so pretty. We weren't even tired, the excitement was too big.
Early in the morning, you can relax while enjoying breakfast with the scenery of Hot air balloons all over. We were staying at the Turquaz Cave Hotel in Goreme where we chose a room with a breathtaking view. The hotel is very central and perfect to walk down to Goreme center, close to restaurants and within walking distance to Goreme museum.
The cave rooms are all great with differing characters, spacious enough and nicely lit and decorated. The staff at Turquaz were very friendly. They have a beautiful view over Goreme and the Valleys.
For a variety of accommodation withbest-guaranteed prices, see options below.
It varies from Luxurious Cave suites, Standard rooms and rooms for Backpackers.
I can without any doubt recommend you go to Booking.com.Should you need any help with reservations, or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. You are very welcome and I'd love to hear from you. contact me to assist you.
- Nevsehir Airport: 29.2 km
- Erkilet International Airport: 59.9 km
- Pigeon- and Rose Valley: 1,3 km
- Red River River: 10 km
- Apple Church: 15.7 km
- Özkonak Underground City: 18.6 km
- Mazı Underground City: 18.9 km
- Goreme Open-Air Museum: 1.7 km
- Dark Church: 1.7 km
- Uchisar Castle: 2.3 km
- Zelve Open Air Museum: 4.9 km
- Nikolos Monastery: 7.4 km
- Urgup Museum: 7.6 km
- Nevsehir University: 7.8 km
- Tuzlu Su Park: 8 km
- Sehit Polis Ahmet Kara Park: 8.2 km
- Zeki Soyak Park: 8.4 km
Explore the Valleys
The Valleys are breathtakingly and discovering them in your own time, brings one closer to the tranquility and peace of nature and our Creator. The Hittites lived under challenging conditions and yet made the most of it, enduring much for their faith in Christ.
Explore the Zelve Open Air Museum, Pasabaglari Fairy Chimneys as well as the Red- and Pigeon Valleys and Rose Valley by foot and even further if you want. To explore by foot, you will see so much more. Rose Valley and many footpaths to explore. Firstly remember your hat against the blazing sun, suntan lotion for protection, and umbrella or dry mac jacket should it rain and comfortable shoes.
We Suggest taking a backpack with snacks and enough water, although you might find a Vendor or two in the Valley selling refreshments. You will see many fruit trees and vegetables while strolling in the valleys. As their soil is very fertile, they make use of all opportunities to plant fruit and vegetables.
Zelve Open Air Museum
You’ll love exploring the Zelve Valley and Zelve Open Air Museum. This remarkable cave town was one of the largest cave-dwelling communities in the region. It is so large that it takes hours to explore. What makes Zelve cave-dwelling even more special is that Christians and Muslims lived here harmoniously until 1920 when the Christians were driven out of Turkey.
A person can freely explore the caves and abandoned buildings. There are many different walking paths to explore these Valleys. Remnants of village life are to see everywhere. Obtain a local Map after your arrival, showing all the Valleys and Places of interest.
Allow approx 100 - 120 minutes to explore. the Locals is so friendly, in fact, Turkish people are very friendly people and always want to help you. Must say, definite not the same as the bad experiences we had in Rome.
Start your day, exploring the Devrent Valley, also called Imagination Valley, a ten-fifteen minute drive from the towns of Urgup and Goreme. With your back-pack, start the day early and let your imagination run wild as you wind your way through this amazing wonderworld. You might notice reptiles amidst these valleys of rosy rocks.
Devrent Valley is a relatively small Unique valley with many Fairy Chimneys. The darker, harder top layers of rock here have protected the softer layers beneath from erosion, Over time Harder darker layers of rock formation, forming animal-like shapes and structures creating unique shapes.
Allow approx. 45 minutes to explore Devrent Valley.
With its 150m deep gorge and hundreds of churches and natural sights, it attracts many visitors. There are also a handful of hikes around the region. It is safe to wander around and just get lost in the valleys, picking fruit and most probably you will meet others also wondering around. Where I come from in South Africa, sadly you cannot just wander around as it does not save unless it is perhaps in a National park with high security.
In Pasabag Valley, also named Monks Valley, with its iconic Fairy Chimneys, you will experience a feel for Cappadocia. The pillars of Pasabag are easily recognizable with 10-15 meters high rocks. Its name is due to the Monks who decided to seek refuge and shelter here.
The monks carved rooms for themselves at the bottom of the fairy chimney and worked their way to the top. Today, you can still climb and explore the upper chambers of the fairy chimneys. We had so much fun exploring the Caves and the valleys that I cannot wait to go back.
Allow at least 40 minutes to explore Pasabag.
Goreme Open Air Museum
Goreme Open Air Museum was a Monastery and home to many. Inside the Goreme Open Air Museum, you will find the Fresco of the Dark Church. It is also called Karanklik Kilise.
Here I would suggest allowing about 90 minutes although we forgot about time. Who wants to be bound by time while you are on holiday relaxing?
Uchisar Castle stands high above the rest of the Cappadocia region.
Upon visiting Uchisar Castle up close, you’ll see that many of its rooms connected via a network of stairs, passages, and tunnels. The droppings from pigeons are a nutrient-dense fertilizer and are collected by local farmers for use in vineyards.
From the top of Uchisar, you’ll have a 360-degree panorama view of Goreme and the surrounding valleys.
Allow approx. 40-50 minutes.
Quad biking, Horse riding, and Cycling
Outrides on Quad bikes to explore the valleys and view the Sunsets or rent a car, scooter or Quad bike and explore on your own. The Locals is friendly and helpful, and always eager to make a special deal. The one day, on our way back from the Rose Valley, the rain suddenly started pouring down.
And yes you guessed right, we had no umbrella or dry mag, therefore we were soaking wet while walking back to Goreme. Many tourists passed us by without stopping to give us a lift. Then a Local Turkish family stopped to pick us up, not worried about our soaking wet bodies, getting into their vehicle.
Prices for Tours and Activities
It can be expensive, or not so expensive, it depends on when and where you decide to make a booking. For Specials and the Best prices on a variety of Tours and Activities, have a look at options below before it increases.