Adventure Outdoors in Turkey’s Cappadocia

Far from Turkey’s seaside in central Anatolya, Cappadocia is a vast region where volcanic activity has resulted in bizarre, undulating landscapes and “fairy chimneys” – tall tapering spires of rock sculpted out of soft volcanic tuff by wind and water. The region features some of the most spectacular scenery and topography in the world, and is an ideal destination for family vacation adventures.

Besides its topography, Cappadocia is known for its unique dwellings of rock-carved homes and churches built by Greek Christians who inhabited the region until the early 20th century, and for its troglodyte villages – underground cities created to escape persecution.

At the center of Cappadocia, Goreme, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the most remarkable of these sights. Molded from a combination of volcanic tuff, basalt, wind and water, Goreme’s fairy chimneys, fantastic meringue-like shapes with tapering columns thrusting skywards, house entire dwellings which were chiseled into the soft rock – rooms, doors and windows – some inhabited to this day. A part of the Roman and Byzantine empires, Cappadocia was home to a thriving monastic Christian community who carved churches and monasteries into the same soft earth and decorated them with pigments made of local plants and minerals. The Goreme Open Air Museum is witness to some thirty of the most impressive of these rock-cut churches, whose vividly colored frescoes depict stories from the bible. Key-holed shaped doors, leading into arched and domed spaces and split-level structures with stairs running up and down characterize these edifices, and shrines tucked around corners with ornate frescoes adorn the interiors.

Derinkuyu, a small town between Goreme and Nigde, houses the most outstanding troglodyte village, an entire city constructed underground. A labyrinthine network of chambers and passages, carved beneath the earth, it was created to avoid religious persecution and marauders’ raids. As time went on, the complex became more and more elaborate, stretching down some eleven levels to a depth of 85 m and sprawling out over an ever-increasing area. At its height, this underground city sheltered between 3000 – 50,000 people. Though some 200 similar cities have been discovered in Cappadocia, Derinkuyu proffers to being the most extraordinary example.

Beyond the scenery and topography, Cappadocia caters to adventure outdoors and activities fitting adventure travel holidays. Hot air ballooning over the fairy chimneys in the early mornings is an experience not to be missed. Hop across rivers, scramble up hills or simply stop to enjoy the scenery here – this is a great destination for a hiking vacations combining superb and peaceful nature with history. This is also the region for horseback riding, quad biking and jeep safaris – just some of the most popular activities to be had.

Cappadocia exhibits the sheer scope of what man can do and leaves you marveling at the ingenuity of its people. At the same time, it offers up vacacation adventures galore in a region packed with outdoor activities for every age and level.