Things to Do in Goreme
Pigeon Valley, just outside Göreme in Cappadocia, is one of Turkey’s most beautiful landscapes.
The unique rock formations known as fairy chimneys, or peri bacalar, which are made from wind and water erosion on soft volcanic rock, rise high from the valley floor like chimneys and are dotted in their tops with birdhouses. Some reach at tall as 130 ft (40m). Pigeons live in these dovecoats carved into the rocks and cliffs. Years ago the pigeons were used to carry messages from this remote region, and their droppings have long been used by local farmers for fertilizer. Today, however, there are fewer pigeons in the valley.
Pigeon Valley is a great place for hiking. The whole area around Göreme is made up of valleys with almost no fencing and there are well-marked trails. The mildly hilly trail through Pigeon Valley is free of charge and about 2.8 miles (4 km) long running between Göreme and Uçhisar.
This is a place to let your mind run free in a seemingly lunar landscape with rock formations that look like animals.
The Devrent Valley, also known as Imagination Valley, has none of the cave churches, Byzantine frescoes or Roman citadel ruins that are famous throughout the rest of Cappadocia; but what it does have is an extraordinary landscape shaped by nature to make you laugh and wonder and explore.
Only a 10 minute drive from Göreme, between Avanos and Ürgüp, the valley is like a rock-formed zoo. Walk the trail and you’ll see a landscape filled with snakes, camels, seals and dolphins and whatever else your mind chooses to make of the twisting curving rocks. Maybe even a dragon. There are also small fairy chimneys, the rock pillars so distinctive of Cappadocia.
The area of Pasabag in Cappadocia is famous for its perfect fairy chimneys, sculpted from ancient lava, ash, and basalt. They jut up all over the place, even in the middle of a vineyard, hence its name which translates as Pacha’s Vineyard. Pasabag is famous for its opportunities to hike among the boulders and into the hills that ring the area. If you just want to relax, in the small village by the road there are stalls serving hot spiced wine in winter, and freshly-squeezed juices in summer. There are also a few cafes where you can grab a bite to eat, and stores selling Cappadocia textiles and artwork. Also known as Monk’s Valley, Pasabag was once home to hermetic monks who sheltered in the smaller cones atop the upper sections of the fairy chimneys.
Made up of a number of smaller valleys, Rose Valley is famous for its otherworldly rock formations and world-class hiking opportunities. The valley trails provide a variety of levels of challenge, and there are plenty of walks that are suitable for beginners. For seasoned hikers, there are trails where you get to scale stone tunnels and climb down ladders. Either way, you’ll get to wander canyon bottoms and explore Cappadocia’s rocks at sunset when the valley turns blood red.
Valleys within the famous valley that’s named for its rose-hued rocks are Gulludere, Kizilcukur, Meskendir and Zindanonu. The most popular path in Rose Valley is a 3.5-km route that begins just outside the town of Goreme, but you could easily come back several times to explore new trails and catch sight of its hidden cave churches and abandoned rock houses.
Smaller than Cappadocia’s other subterranean cities like Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, Ozkonak Underground City is also much less crowded. On the northern slopes of Mount Idis, as you hunch to stroll the tiny corridors of this ancient city you'll feel very big compared to the people who once lived here. Likely built in the Byzantine era, though perhaps even older, Özkonak Underground City was rediscovered in the '70s by a local farmer who wondered where his excess crop water was going. Turns out it was going into a huge subterranean city stretching ten floors deep and able to house 60,000 people.
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