- Food & Drink
- Design & Culture
- Cars, Jets & Yachts
By Chris | September 4 2007
Venture into the subterranean world of Derinkuyu, one of more than 100 underground cities in Cappadocia.
Built in the 7th and 8th centuries, these cities were used by Christians to escape Roman persecution. Only a handful are open to the public. Derinkuyu has 11 floors, is 85 meters (279 feet) deep and can accommodate up to 50,000 people with livestock. It has stables, churches, cellars, wine and oil presses, kitchens and an impressive school hall with a barrel vaulted ceiling. Alternatively, visit Kaymakli city whose tunnels are still used by villagers for storage and stabling.
60 million years ago the eruption of the volcanic Mount Erciyes and Mount Hasandaği covered the Cappadocia region in lava and ash. Water and wind eroded the soft rock, forming thin spires known as fairy chimneys. Carved into dwellings by monks and master stonecutters, these magical rock formations were used for living and worship for hundreds of years. The iconic fairy chimneys now feature on the New 50 Turkish Lira banknote.
GÖREME OPEN-AIR MUSEUM
Named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Göreme open-air museum has 30 rock-carved churches and chapels dating back to the 4th century. The stunning Byzantine frescoes in Tokali church are particularly enchanting.
HORSE RIDING AND CROSS GOLF
Cappadocia means ‘land of the beautiful horses’ and what better way to explore the mysterious Cappadocian landscape than on horseback. Alternatively, try a round of Cross Golf where the target is a raised net ‘goal’, rather than a hole in the ground. Cappadocia’s bushes and fields are the fairways, and fairy chimneys and grapevines are the obstacles. Indeed, the dramatic landscape challenges even the most experienced golfer.
HOT AIR BALLOON FLIGHT
Float across Cappadocia’s stunning valleys and awe-inspiring rock formations in a VIP hot air balloon. Salute the sunrise with a glass of champagne, and savor the incredible aerial views.
DINNER AND WHIRLING DERVISHES
Ask Matiana Travel to organize an atmospheric candlelit dinner in one of Cappadocia’s spectacular valleys. Sample local Anatolian delicacies and relax with flavorsome Cappadocian wines and live violin music. Alternatively, buy an advance ticket to a Sufi Mevelevi dervish sema. Cloaked in flowing garments, dervishes perform a mesmerizing praying dance to reach a state of religious ecstasy.
BEST CAVE HOTELS
Cappadocia is known for its unique cave hotels. Elite Traveler has picked two of the best, (see overleaf).
Hasan Tolga Tosun, General Manager
+90 212 288 1171
Barbaros Bulvari, IBA Bloklari, 44/10 Balmumcu, 34349, Besiktas, Istanbul
The Museum Hotel is located on the side of a hill, overlooking the great valleys of Cappadocia.
The Hotel’s restaurant, Lil’a, serves traditional Cappadocian dishes and is the only American Express Selects restaurant in Cappadocia. International award-winning Head Chef Mustafa Buyukhan offers cooking classes where guests learn the art of balancing complex Anatolian spices. To unwind, book a massage on the terrace with its beautiful view across the valleys.
+90 384 219 2220
Tekeli mah. No.1, Uchisar 50240 Nevsehir
Why we love it: ‘Mutesham’ means perfect, and this remarkable spa suite with its vaulted stone rooms certainly lives up to its name. Enjoy a massage in the suite’s own wellness massage room before luxuriating in the generous double Jacuzzi. Select a wine from the suite’s complimentary wine cellar then recline on the queen-sized bed and look up at the stars through the bedroom skylight. The suite has wireless internet and an HD LCD TV.
Built on the site of an ancient monastery, Argos Hotel has carefully restored several historical dwellings and now comprises four different mansions connected by underground tunnels and caves.
Choose from a variety of guest rooms and suites. One 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) long tunnel, once a hidden sanctuary for the sprawling estates of this traditional hillside village, houses the hotel’s private wine cellar and meeting rooms. Partly carved out from the rocky landscape and partly built in stone, the Argos in Cappadocia has its own concert hall, Bezirhane, showcasing jazz and classical music for audiences of up to 120. With domes of between 8-10 meters (26-33 feet) the acoustics are excellent. For special events the hall can be hired for a sit-down dinner for 90 people.
+90 384 219 3130
Uçhisar 50240 Nevşehir, Türkiye
Why we love it: Both Splendid Suites have their own private cave pool and terrace with views of the hotel’s luscious private gardens and Pigeon Valley; so named because the residents of Uçhisar carved pigeon houses into the valley’s rocks. The décor is simple, emphasising the texture and thickness of the rock and stone walls. Beautiful rugs and carpets, fireplaces and central heating bring warmth to the suites. There is wireless internet and 24-hour concierge and room service.