This is the best loved minibus tour of the central region of Cappadocia. You will see different rock formations, castles and fairy chimneys, Byzantine frescos in cave churches, and traditional crafts including pottery in Avanos where you can try the ancient Hittite kick wheel technique for yourself. This is a full day tour with pick up from your hotel either 9 or 9:30am.
Included in the tour: entrances and lunch. Not included in the tour: drinks and tips.
Red Tour & 1 Hour Balloon Flight
€140* per person
Red Tour & 1½ Hour Balloon Flight
€230* per person
Dervent Valley is also known as "Imagination Valley" because the rocks have been shaped over thousands of years by nature’s most famous artist "Erosion" into humanistic and animalistic forms; it is the most surreal looking landscape and everyone can understand the shapes differently. Is it a camel or is it a snail? Can you see the seal, the fish, the snake, or even the dolphin? What about Charlie Chaplin, Ataturk the founder of the Turkish Republic, or even the Virgin Mary?
Pasabag, which literally translates as the Pasha’s Vineyard, is also known as Monk’s Valley. Here you can see the story of the formation of fairy chimneys before your very eyes. Many of the rock pillars here are noted for their three heads. In one of these is a tiny chapel dedicated to Saint Simeon with a hermit’s cave, and it’s three heads may have been interpreted as a symbol of The Trinity. You can spend some time walking around and even touching these volcanically formed natural stelae.
It was once said that travelers knew they were approaching Avanos because the road was paved with broken pots. The town is situated on the Kizilirmak or Red River, known in ancient Greece as the Halys. It’s source is the Red Mountain and it wends it’s way down to the Black Sea. Around Avanos there are deposits of red clay which is still used today. The potters use an ancient Hittite kick wheel, and you can have a go at throwing a pot yourself. The workshops are full of colorfully glazed ceramics; a cultural feast for the eyes.
Goreme Open Air Museum is a natural and historical wonder. The cones of volcanic tuff were carved out to house Byzantine monasteries, each with its own church. The richness of the fresco decorations reflects upon the wealth of the various sponsors who earned the prayers of the monks in an age without antibiotics where death could be just around the corner. The story of Jesus from before the Nativity to after the crucifixion and various saints including Saint George (possibly the most famous Cappadocian) are just some of the historical Byzantine frescos you will see.
Esentepe panoramic viewpoint is the best spot to see the fairy chimneys in Goreme village, many of which are still homes to local people. In fact you can see the countryside for miles around. The table top mountain in the distance gives an idea of the original height of the land and how deeply the wind, rain, sun and temperature changes have eroded the region. The red and pink colored rocks of Red and Rose Valleys can also be seen in the distance. Down in the valleys are the vineyards of the locals who use the grapes to make pekmez (molasses).
You should not leave Cappadocia without a closer view of one of the rock castle fortresses. Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans all used these elevated vantage points to survey and protect the surrounding area. You might see Uchisar Castle (the end rock castle) either from below with the tall cone caves around it, or from Pigeon Valley panoramic viewpoint where the dovecotes are still used to collect guano to fertilize the local vineyards. Alternatively, you might stop below Ortahisar Castle (the middle rock castle) which is also known as "the tallest fairy chimney" because it is so round and high.
* Prices subject to availability (advanced booking recommended).
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