Göreme is a truly incredible place in Cappadocia, Turkey. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its geographical features and its place in the history of post-iconoclast Byzantium. Göreme National Park and Rock Sites of Cappadocia are worth a visit if you are in Turkey. You can stay in a troglodyte hotel and discover a part of Turkey which is as apart from modern-day Istanbul as it is possible to imagine. Because the way of life is still traditional in this part
of Turkey, you will be expected to respect the culture and cover up – no bare
The towering columns, obelisks and seeming termite mounds have been sculpted over the centuries by the erosion caused by wind and water. They are often called “fairy chimneys” but they are so much more than that. The first indications of monks living in the area are believed to date from the 4th century A.D. There are dwellings, churches and caves that have been carved out of the tuff – the hardened material from volcanoes. Mount Erciye, which is close to both Göreme and nearby Kayseri is dormant, but still active. In winter you can go skiing and do other winter sports on this volcano.
You can wander around the Göreme Open Air Museum, but you have to be fit to take in all the sights! There is the Love Valley, called this, I assume because of the phallus-like structures that inhabit the area.
You can stay in a rock
hotel, eat in a rock restaurant and live like a troglodyte in Göreme. People live in the “fairy chimneys” and also use others for storerooms. It was the early Christians, fleeing from Arab invaders who gave this place the name Göreme, which means “you cannot see here.” There are many churches in the National Park as well as a nunnery or monastery which had six or seven floors, but it is the frescoes which attract the attention in all the churches. My favourite church is the “hidden church” Sakli church.
You can fly to Kayseri from Istanbul and then get a bus to Göreme, for the 10 kilometre trip, or you can go by bus from Istanbul (10 hours) or from any of the holiday resorts on the Aegean coast, Kusadasi (12 hours), Bodrum, Marmaris and so on.
If you stay in Kayseri you will come across many carpet sellers trying to sell you “hand-made” carpets, which, I have been told, are actually machine-made and made in China these days. However there is a new initiative to teach the skills of carpet weaving to the young generation. Don’t be fooled by the patter of the carpet sellers! Kayseri silk carpets used to be beautiful but I have always preferred those from Hereke. (At one time in the 1980s I sold carpets in Turkey!)
If you travel to Avanos, wander up the back streets and buy some of the pottery that has been made in the area for centuries! You can find beautiful (cheaper) pottery if you getaway from the main tourist streets.
A word of warning: wherever you go in Turkey you are likely to be “befriended” by a Turk (usually male) who will tell you that he can find you some good deals in various shops. He will then dog your footsteps and guide you into shops to which he will return without you later to collect his commission. You are paying more than you would do normally in order to cover this.