Penne 4 Your Thoughts

Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more

Cappadocia Part 2: Caves and underground cities

Ancient frescoes, by Penne Cole

One of the things that made me so excited to visit Cappadocia was the cave dwellings. Cave hotels are a common accommodation option in the region, although our choice, the Sato Cave Hotel, doesn’t really give cave hotels a good name. Cave dwellings in Cappadocia date back millennia. Natural caves were settled as early as 4,000 BC. Even today, several churches can be found hidden in the cliffs.

The settlers started to fashion the caves into dwellings, with whole cities carved out of the rock, much like Petra in Jordan.

Cities carved out of rock, by Penne Cole

Perhaps it is for this reason that the people had no problem living in underground cities. These cities pepper Cappadocia, and were used by the early Christians as strongholds when they came under attack. Several of these underground cities are now open to tourists. The largest, Derinkuyu, extends more than 80 meters underground and just 10% of it has been explored. The caves were extensive and designed for extensive stay. Chapels, kitchens, larders, even barns for animals were part of the complex. The underground cities were clearly used for defensive purposes, with evidence of traps and heavy stone doors designed to seal off entrances still visible today.

Underground cities, by

The easiest way to see these attractions is to follow a guided tour. We chose the Green Tour, which covers the Derinkuyu underground city, the Ihlara valley, the Selima monastery, which is a monastery carved into the rock, and more. The tour cost 90 Liras per person and included lunch, all transport, as well as entry fees to the attractions. A clear advantage of the tour is that you won’t have to worry about getting lost and they have good English speaking guides. However, you will be taken to the obligatory jewellery-making factory at the end of the tour.

Getting there

The closest airport to Goreme, the center of the tourist industry in Cappadocia, is Nevsehir International Airport. Turkish Airlines run twice-daily flights from Istanbul to Nevsehir. The airport is half an hour away from Goreme by car. Airport transfers can usually be arranged by your hotel, and cost 13 Euros.

Alternatively, you can fly into Kayseri airport, which is an hour away by car. However, airport transfers cost the same and there are many more flight options to Kayseri from Istanbul.


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This entry was posted on November 17, 2012 by in Asia, Travel, Turkey and tagged , , , , .
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