Amazing Places

Cappadocia, Turkey Is a Picturesque Land of Hot Air Balloons and Honeycombed Hills

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Cappadocia, Turkey is truly what wanderlust dreams are made of—picture a sky filled with hot air balloons and fairy chimneys atop honeycombed hills. The landscape of the Göreme valley was built in fourth century A.D. both by volcanic eruptions and human hands. Many of the city's well-preserved caves are filled with Christian history and Byzantine frescoed paintings, while others are private homes and even modern hotels.

Mother Nature's Perfect Hiding Spots

According to National Geographic, the thick ash from ancient volcanic eruptions in the region solidified into soft rock called tuft: "wind and water went to work on this plateau, leaving only its harder elements behind to form a fairy tale landscape of cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms, and chimneys, which stretch as far as 130 feet (40 meters) into the sky." Then, humans worked with Mother Nature's creations to build caves. The tunnels were so complex that they actually formed entire underground towns.

Much of this area in Cappadocia is now considered Göreme National Park. It once sat between the Greek and Persian empires, then later the Byzantine Greeks and other political rivals. As you might imagine, the underground rock settlements were ideal hiding spots. Christians also took refuge in Cappadocia after fleeing persecution in Rome. They built monastic communities, including cave chapels with Byzantine frescoed paintings. You can view these rock-cut churches at the Göreme Open-Air Museum, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The View From Up Top

What's the best way to experience this wonderland? From above. A trip to Cappadocia isn't complete without riding in a hot air balloon—several colorful balloons fill the sky almost daily. As for lodging? Try the cave dwellings. Many caves have been transformed into hotels for 21st century cave living.

Cappadocia, An Underground City

Written by Curiosity Staff March 3, 2017