Cappadocia, a fairytale location of Turkey Featured

Just an hour away from Istanbul by plane, this region is famous for its exceptional natural beauty
by 29 September 2010

The word ‘fairy chimney’ might not mean much to you, unless you have seen Cappadocia’s remarkable natural wonders, reaching out to the horizon in front of your eyes. These incredible sculptures of dried lava and ash from the nearby Erciyes volcano, along with the area's fascinating history, make Cappadocia a truly mesmerizing place to visit.

Cappadocia, which means ‘land of beautiful horses’ in Persian, is a region in the heart of Turkey, one and a half hours from Istanbul by plane. Famous for its fairy chimneys, it was once home to many civilizations throughout history: first the Hittite Empire, then Alexander the Great, the Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans. They all lived in this geographically beautiful, 60 million-year-old geological wonder without destroying its natural monuments. A short tour of the region reveals temples carved into mountains, glorious castles, caves used as churches by early Christians, and underground cities discovered as a result of decades-long excavations.

The best way to see what Cappadocia has to offer is to take one of the Cappadocia balloons and tour around its valleys. At sunrise, Cappadocia becomes even more beautiful, with its pastel colors and brilliant skies. You will notice how some of the fairy chimneys resemble human or animal figures: a couple with their children, or a camel with a huge hump, and many other images conjured up by the rocks and your imagination.

Walking through the amazing Ihlara Valley is an experience in itself. The river Melendiz flows through this 14 kilometre-long valley, where early Christian priests hid in its caves for years. The steep and rocky riverbank now presents a fascinating heritage: the walls of the volcanic caves are decorated with stories from the Bible. History and nature are brought together in an intriguing combination, inviting reflection on how humanity has had to cope both with the forces of nature and the tides of history.

Uchisar Castle is one of the main sights, a must-see spot right in the middle of Cappadocia. The highest and also the oldest village in the region, Uchisar provides splendid views of the natural landscape. The castle looks more like a huge rock than a castle, but if you go inside, you will see that the many rooms and galleries are interlinked by tunnels. According to legend, a dwarf lived under the castle, because he was the only person small enough for the tunnels.

Wine is another reason for visiting Cappadocia. In fact, it is celebrated as the birthplace of wine, because archaeological findings in the area, including wine production tools and goblets, have been dated right back to 3000 B.C. Today, many well-known grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet or Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc are grown here, as well as the famous bright yellow Turkish grape Emir. Local vineyards sell their wines and other delicacies that will undoubtedly please all gourmands.

As the region began to attract more and more visitors, nature-loving entrepreneurs began restoring ancient villages and creating extraordinary hotels for luxury travelers. Argos in Cappadocia is one of those creative projects. Located in the historic heart of the region, the hotel consists of four mansions and 33 spacious and lavish rooms, all restored and equipped with the latest technology. With panoramic views of Mount Erciyes and Pigeon Valley, the Splendid Suites have their own cave pools that you can enjoy in the seclusion of your own room. Staying at Argos Hotel is a truly mystical experience: you can savor the heritage of millennial civilization while enjoying the finest aspects of contemporary hospitality.
 
Istanbul FW 2010

See also:
Golf on the Turkish Riviera