The region known as Cappadocia includes the centres of Ürgüp, Göreme, Avanos, Üçhisar, Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı and Ihlara. It is a stunning area of other-worldly rock formations, subterranean churches and underground dwellings, the scale of which is over-whelming. 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 industry, and 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 Bacaları or 'Fairy Chimneys'.
Located to the west of Niğde, is the stunning Ihlara Vadisi, a gorge which is 10 km long and some 80 metres wide. Popular for trekking, about 12 of its 60 churches are open to the public including the impressive Eğritaş Church.
There are hundreds of underground cities in the regions. Two of the most impressive are Kaymaklı, which has 8 levels, and Derinkuyu, which reaches down to 55 metres. They were used by the Christians fleeing persecution in the 7th century, who created a self-sufficient environment underground including bedrooms, kitchens and storage rooms.
WHAT TO SEE
The splendid scene of the town of Uçhisar, seven kilometres from Nevşehir has an appeal that is irresistible. From the heights of the Uçhisar citadel, you have a magnificent and unrivalled view of the whole region.
Göreme and its environs, located ten kilometres from Nevşehir, 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 Tokalı church, the Convent of Monks and Nuns, the Chapel of St. Basil, and the Elmalı, Yılanlı, Karanlık, and Çarıklı 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 kilometres south of Ürgüp is Mustafapaşa (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 kilometres from Nevşehir, there is a tradition of pottery-making that has been alive since Hittite times.