The Göreme National Park in Cappadocia is in a volcanic area in central Turkey. Inside of this park, there are rock formations that look like “fairy chimneys,” created by the ash that came out of the nearby volcanos.
Over the years, the ash became hard as rock, with water and wind turning these formations into different shapes. The tuff of these formations was soft enough to be carved out, enabling people to create homes and cities out of the hardened ash.
Throughout this area, more 30 underground cities have thrived. The people who originally built them did so for increased protection against wild animals and the harsh winters, and later on were used for hiding out.
The underground cities all had chimneys for ventilation that went up 80 meters and down to the water below ground, in order to provide both air and water. The cities had all kinds of areas that a normal, above-ground city would have, including toilets, living spaces, wine houses, kitchens, stables, etc.
Every underground city included locking stones that could only be used from inside that closed the underground city off from the outside, protecting the inhabitants from outside threats.
One of the most famous areas is Urgup. Going up to Urgup, a good place to stop for a great view is at the Catalkaya, also known as “The Three Beauties.” Urgup was the center of this region and has a variety of activities for visitors to partake in and check out.
There are spectacular cave hotels, hand-made carpets, and great wine. Adventure activities are also available in the area, from hot air balloon rides and jeep safaris to hiking and horseback riding.
Goreme Open Air Museum
The Goreme Open Air Museum has much to explore. There is a monastery of nuns that is about 6 floors high, with tunnels connecting the floors. A monastery of priests is also nearby, though even less of this monastery has survived and remains open to the public.
Hagios Basileos church contains frescoes on the walls that visitors can see. There are a number of other interesting churches and buildings to explore in this open-air museum.
7 sites in this World Heritage
- Göreme National Park
- Karain site
- Karlik site
- Yesilöz site
- Soganli site
- Subterranean city of Kaymakli
- Subterranean city of Derinkuyu