Cappadocia is one of these destinations where we bring everyone that visits us in Turkey. The magnificent landscape, fairy chimneys, daily balloon flights, historic caves houses, hidden churches, and underground cities make Cappadocia one of the best travel destination in Turkey.
There are a lot of things to visit and although we went several times, we try to discover new places every time.
Göreme is one of the main/center destinations in the area, it is a small village with tons of hotels. There are a lot of options for accommodation, you can find luxury hotels with pools but also caves hotel where you can sleep in a cave house an live a unique experience.
From Göreme you can visit the open-air museum to explore hidden churches, the Zelve Valley to walk among fairy chimneys, Uçhisar to visit the impressive castle perched on a rock spur, with commanding views of Cappadocia. You can also visit the Love valley offering incredible panoramic views and numerous hiking trails.
Of course, these are beautiful destinations, only a few kilometers away for Göreme and we enjoyed visiting this area several times.
However, it’s also where most tourist go and some places like the open-air museum can get crowded.
DISCOVERING THE HIDDEN MONASTERIES
The last time we visited Cappadocia, we decided to go off the beaten tracks as the region is wide, and there was a lot more to discover.
We headed to the southeast of Gôreme near Ürgüp, passing by Ortahisar where we could see how locals still live in the cave houses.
There is a big rock castle in the middle of Ortahisar, it is smaller but similar to the one in Uçhisar. The rock on which the fortress in Ortahisar was built is known as “the biggest fairy chimney in Cappadocia”.
You can find more information about Ortahisar Castle here.
Then we followed the road to Mustafapaşa to visit the Church and Monastery of St Nicholas.
You can find more information about the St Nicholas Monastery here.
We continued our trip to the Southeast. passing by Cemil to get to the Keslik Monastery.
Hundreds of monks lived in that monastery, we visited the 14 man-made churches, kitchens, sleeping quarters and hermits cave. Exploring the well-preserved buildings, we could really imagine how these monks were living their daily life.
Following Ürgüp Yolu we headed for Soğanlı, a village where you can walk in the valley to explore several rock-cut cave-churches.
Soğanlı valley is known as the gate to Cappadocia.
Just before entering in the Soğanlı village, there was a great restaurant with a beautiful garden where we had lunch in the orchard where tables and sofas are waiting for travelers.
You can access the Soğanlı village for free if you show your Muzekart. We had the hiking trails to ourselves and we went out to explore several churches.
There are several churches and it is really interesting to walk most of the village. Some churches can only be seen if you do a bit of hiking.
Beside each cave-church, there are signs explaining (in English) when it was built and giving some information about the history of the church.
The most impressive one is the domed church. because of its interiors and also because it’s the only structure with a discernible exterior dome carved from the rock.
Hiking through the valley to explore the churches was fantastic, I consider the Soğanlı village among my favorite sites in Cappadocia.
It really looks like a forgotten place, located far from the touristic center of Cappadocia, but it makes the place even more interesting as you can explore at your pace, away from the crowded sites.
We explored by ourselves and planned the trip using books, online information, and help from our hotel owner.
If you are looking for tours or would like to discover the valley with guides, it is also possible.