Turkey is a historical country filled with culture, beauty, and natural wonders. In fact, there are many interesting facts that many people may not know that help add to the enchantment and splendor of the country, like the fact that the world’s oldest known human settlement can be found in Turkey, two of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World were located in Turkey, and the seven churches cited in the Book of Revelation all resided in Turkey. With such a unique past, it’s not surprising that the country holds so many spectacular and amazing sites. Wander inside the Blue Mosque, an enormous complex that was built from 1609-1616, trek through the unworldly Cappadocia region, or check out the ruins in Ephesus, where the Temple of Artemis stands, once one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
To explore the wonders of Turkey for yourself through photos, check out the gallery below.
Located in the center of Cappadocia, Turkey, on the site of an ancient monastery, there is the Argos in Cappadocia, a historical and experiential boutique hotel. The remains of the historical structures, tunnels, and caves have been restored and turned it into a unique accommodation for travelers.
The views from the hotel look like a mix between a fairy tale and a sci-fi film, overlooking volcanic peaks and valleys of apricots and apples as the hotel is literally imbedded into the layered hillside. Room styles vary from “standard” to “Splendid Suites”, with each type being housed inside of a cave. These cave rooms are each located in hillside mansions that are connected to underground tunnels containing meeting rooms and fully stocked wine cellars. If you’re imagining a dark and dismal atmosphere, think again, as these rooms open onto terraces, balconies, and private courtyards with clear views of the adjacent Guvercinlik Valley and faraway mountain peaks. Moreover, each guestroom is technology-capable, with wireless internet and state-of-the-art sound systems. Turkish carpets, artifacts, and candles adorn each dwelling, although you may want to opt for the Splendid Suite for your own private in-suite swimming pool.
Having a hard time picturing it? Check out the gallery below to get a better idea of what you can expect.
Disclaimer: Today’s summer travel destination isn’t exactly the most widely recognizable corner of the world. In fact, some of you seasoned travel vets out there might be scratching your heads and searching for the nearest world map. But we’re guessing that after a few hundred words or so, we’ll have you dreaming about a trip to Cappadocia.
We’re not talking about the small town of the same name in Central Italy, but rather an ancient region of eastern Anatolia, and part of modern Nevşehir Province in Turkey. Cappadocia, pronounced something akin to Kapadokya, is distinguished by its spectacular landscape of fairy chimneys, cave dwellings and expansive underground cities.
Accessible by either bus or plane from Istanbul, Cappadocia is one of the undeniable highlights of any Turkish grand tour. The centerpiece is Göreme National Park, which was designated in 1985 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and protects rock carvings dating back to the Roman era. Another major draw is the town of Ürgüp, where you can bed down in a Flintstone-esque hotel carved right out of the rock face.
Have we captured your full attention yet? If not, check out the gallery below.
%Gallery-122858%Although human settlement in the region began in the Bronze Age, written references to Cappadocia first appear in Persian texts from the 6th century BCE. Cappadocians are also directly referenced in the New Testament as one of the tribes that received the gospel of Jesus Christ on the day of Pentecost.
In terms of architectural contribution, Cappadocia left its most significant mark during the era of Roman occupation. Prior to the acceptance of Christianity as an officially recognized religion, devotees were forced to worship in secrecy. As such, many turned to the troglodyte lifestyle, and fashioned vast underground cities complete with cavernous worship halls, intricate alters, rock-hewn pews and hand-painted frescos.
Surreal as it may sound, the underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı wouldn’t be at all out of place in the Lord of Rings!
Both cities are entered via unassuming tunnels that gradually descend into the depths of the Earth. There are also obvious signs along the way that past residents were hostile to intrusion. Boulders could be rolled out from hidden pockets to crush bodies and seal passageway. And if you pause briefly to look above, you’ll see holes in the ceiling that not only provide ventilation, but also provide convenient openings for pouring buckets of hot oil!
Only select interior rooms and corridors are open to the public, yet it is obvious that Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı could have easily harbored thousands upon thousands of refugees. There are enormous mills and presses for making food and wine, sealed storage rooms with jar placements for safe-guarding supplies and numerous alcoves that would have allotted individual families with ample privacy for living and sleeping.
Although Christianity was eventually adopted by the empire, regional instability and the eventual arrival of the Turks were major factors in the continued occupancy of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı. With that said, above ground settlements in Cappadocia also flourished, and applied troglodyte building techniques to the local geology.
The village of Göreme lies at the center of a vast open-air museum of truly monumental constructions. In the surrounding hills, you’ll find everything from simple cave dwellings and multi-room residential complexes to elaborately-carved monasteries and enormous churches awash with religious paintings. In order to reach some of the more remote sights, you will need to scale ladders, traverse rock bridges, scour cliff sides for handholds and perform other Indiana Jones-worthy moves.
Even where there are no obvious signs of prior human occupation, Cappadocia still manages to astound with its unique natural formations. Of particular note are the fairy chimneys, which have similar characteristics as the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. These towering spires of rock typically have soft sedimentary bases in various states of erosion, as well as harder, less eroded protrusions at their tops. Some of the largest specimens reach heights well over one-hundred feet!
Arguably the coolest part of exploring Cappadocia is spending quality time in any of the cave dwellings that have been converted into luxurious digs. In the tourist gateway of Ürgüp, you’ll find a large number of boutique lodgings that manage to squeeze a good number of creature comforts in between hard rock walls. If you’re feeling posh, you can Jacuzzi in the middle of a cave, and then bed down on a King size mattress strewn across a stone frame.
In the winter months, many of the cave hotels come equipped with fireplaces for staying warm in light of the frequent snow drifts. In the summer months, they stay surprisingly cool, providing you with a well-ventilated refuge from the rising mercury. Modern conveniences aside, it’s not too hard to imagine why people were keen to live inside the rocks generations ago.
Cappadocia is also home to troglodyte-style bars, hookah lounges, restaurants and full-on dance clubs. At the end of a long day of sight-seeing, you can spelunk to whichever venue takes your fancy, and savor a proper Turkish meal, a bubbling water pipe or a glass of local wine. A burgeoning tourist scene of Brits, Europeans, Aussies, Kiwis and savvy North Americans ensures a lively time is had by all.
And now, here are the nitty-gritty details….
Turkish Airlines, alongside most major carriers, connects US and Canadian cities to Istanbul. You can then either continue to Cappadocia by domestic flight, or take advantage of Turkey’s excellent long-distance bus network. Night buses withon-board stewardesses,overhead movies and reclining seats are surprisingly comfortable, very safe and all-together affordable.
So, what are you waiting for? When it comes to summer travel, you’d be hard pressed to find somewhere more exotic that Cappadocia.
** All images are the author’s own original work **
It’s that time of year again. A time when we all make certain promises to ourselves, in an attempt to make our lives more organized, our bodies stronger or leaner. We vow to spend more time with loved ones, give back to others, or ditch that cubicle job. And some of us…well, we just want to keep on traveling, any way we can manage to finagle it.
In the spirit of New Year’s, I asked my fellow Gadling contributors about their travel resolutions for the coming year, and came up with some of my own. Our goals are all over the map (no pun intended), but a common theme emerged. Despite our love of exotic adventures, most of us want to spend more time exploring in our own backyard (that would be the United States). That, and invent musical underwear.
- Go on my first cruise.
- Spend a weekend somewhere without Internet access, and, if I survive that…
- Celebrate the Fourth of July with my family in Banner Elk, North Carolina, home of the quintessential small-town Independence Day. There’s a three-legged race, a rubber ducky race down a mountain stream, and a parade filled with crepe paper, balloons, and every kid and dog in town.
- Quit my “day job” so I can do this full-time.
[Photo credit: Flickr user nlmAdestiny]Laurel Miller
- Get back in shape after a two-year battle with Oroya Fever (contracted in Ecuador), and climb a volcano in Bolivia.
- Finally start exploring my adopted state of Washington, especially the Olympic Peninsula.
- Visit India for the first time; see if it’s possible to subsist on street food without getting dysentery.
- Learn to wear DEET at all times when traveling in countries that harbor nearly-impossible-to-diagnose diseases like Oroya Fever.
- Get back to Ethiopia.
- Explore Green Spain (the north part of the country).
- Show my son a non-Western culture.
- Invent an underwear stereo that plays cheap jazz music when subjected to a TSA patdown.
- Drive cross country.
- See the Grand Canyon (finally).
- Finally learn how not to overpack.
- And, for the fifth year in a row, I resolve to learn how to play the keytar (2011 has got to be the year!).
- Bound and determined to visit my 50th state, Alaska.
- Dead-set on relocating a childhood friend of mine back to North Carolina, and then taking him on a road trip of some sort.
- Visit more places where I know people.
- Be in more travel pictures and get my husband out from behind the
- camera occasionally.
- Take at least one guidebook-free and paperless trip. Okay, maybe one map.
- Take better notes. I might think I’ll always remember the name of that fun-looking restaurant or weird sign I want to translate, but it’s easy to forget when you’re taking in so many new things.
- See more of Turkey while I still live here. I spend so much time traveling to nearby countries, I have to be sure to see the landscape of Cappadocia and eat the food in Gaziantep before I go back to the U.S..
Grant Martin, Editor-in-Chief
- Travel a bit less and work a bit more [Sure, Grant!].
Annie Scott Riley
- Travel less alone, and more with my husband.
Alex Robertson Textor
- More open-jaw travel, flying into one destination and traveling by land to another before returning home. It’s my favorite way to see a new or familiar territory–gradually and without any backtracking. I need to do it more often.
- More thematic consistency in my travels. Instead of scrambling to meet whatever assignment comes my way, I want my travels in the next year to be focused on a region or two, and on a number of overarching questions or issues. I’m still collecting ideas: Remote European mountain villages? Neglected second-tier cities? The Caucasus?
- Northern Cyprus. Have been wanting to visit since I was a kid. 2011’s the year.
- To take back the name “Globetrotters” from the Harlem basketball team.
- To introduce eggnog and lutefisk to southeast Asia.
- To eat fewer vegetables.