Do you dream of a land with abounding fairy chimney rock formations, underground cities and churches inside rock-cut caves? Well behold such a land does indeed exist in this universe, and even better, on Earth! Cappadocia is in the Turkish region of central Anatolia (on the Asian side of Turkey) and is famous for its unique rock formations and caves which were used by Christian settlers centuries ago. While most people opt to see the unique landscape from above aboard one of the many hot air balloons that set off each morning at sunrise, I consider a hiking experience to be just as necessary to allow for a true appreciation of the natural phenomenon. An added bonus to taking one of the many hiking tracks in the region is stumbling upon cave churches inside some of the fairy chimneys.
Arriving to Kayseri aiport in the early afternoon, I was too keen to start exploring so I had my hotel (the amazing Aydinli Cave House) arrange a sunset hiking tour through Rose Valley for that same afternoon. The tour began at 5:30pm and lasted three hours with many breaks along the way for hydration, photos and zen moments. There are quite a few slopes to walk up so be sure to wear some sneakers at the very least.
The walk begins at the 7th century A.D. Üçhaçlı church (or the Church of the Three Crosses). Although still worth exploring, unfortunately due to its accessibility to passers-by only few damaged frescoes remain inside the church. As you continue on the walk, you will find yourself wandering through valleys of fairy chimneys and fields of Queen Annes Lace. About two-thirds of the way you will stop for an extended break at a cafe and the Hacli church, which is accessible via a metal ladder at the back of the small cafe. The church is a definite highlight of not only the hike but your stay in Cappadocia, boasting many wonderful secoes, including a magnificent green-coloured 10th-century Pantocrator which remains virtually undamaged despite its great age. The final stop is at a panoramic viewpoint to watch the sunset over the rose-coloured valley. Although most people remain with the guide, I recommend walking up a bit further so as to find your own private and peaceful spot and to get a better view of the rose valley in front of the sunset rather than to the side of it.
Much more Cappadocia to come when I find some more free time!