Destinations

What I found underneath Cappadocia, Turkey.

Cappadocia is more than its enchanting and unique moon-like surface.

In this remote region in Turkey not only can you fly up-high in an amazing hot air balloon but you can also explore the underground caves. Two years ago I lived this experience with two of my best traveling buddies. Here are my favorite pictures and some fun facts. Let’s dig in, shall we?

There are more than a hundred of underground settlements in the region but just a few are open to visitors. The underground cities, which are guessed to be used since the Bronze Age, used to be a settlement mostly in Byzantine period when residentes were forced to build underground cities for protection and religious purposes.

We visited Derinkuyu underground city which is located is located 40km from Goreme (30 minute drive). There are about 600 outside doors to the city, hidden in the courtyards of surface dwellings. The underground city is approximately 85m deep. It contains all the usual rooms found in an underground city (stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, churches, wineries, kitchen, classrooms etc.) Here you could find everything needed to survive several days without having to up into the mainland.

Derinkuyu is the widest of the underground cities. Here we are in one of the largest spaces with very little ventilation. Not recommended for those who suffer from claustrophobia.

Some of the tunnels are very very narrow and unlike many buildings now a days, there is no emergency exit in case you start feeling sick.

No windows, very little ventilation.

 

Interesting paints, drawings and scriptures in the wall of the main rooms in the underground city.

Although smiling, I have to confess that was short of breath at many points in the tour.

 

Besides being World Heritage Site, the rock sites of Cappadocia are described by UNESCO as “one of the world’s most striking and largest cave-dwelling complexes” and for those music lovers, it is highly recommended to plan your visit during the week-long Cappadocia Music Festival which showcases choirs and orchestras.

From Istambul you can fly to Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport, located 25 km far from city center. Keep in mind its a small airport so book your flight ahead of time and arrange transportation to and from your hotel, especially if you are flying in at night. There are not that many cabs at night and no Uber anywhere near (at least two years ago when we went).

To have a full Cappadocia experience make sure to book your hot air balloon ride and spend at least one night at a cave hotel. Check here for  more about this experience.

Have you been to Cappadocia? What was your experience like? Make sure to share your comments, suggestions, tips and recommendations.