Back on the surface, it’s often the famous ‘fairy chimneys’ that have visitors’ attention. The result of volcanic action more than two million years ago and the subsequent action of wind and rain, these cones are quite soft. Many have been dug out or contain caves, creating a surreal sight for visitors. The best place to start a visit is the Goreme Open-Air Museum, a monastic settlement with churches containing exquisite Byzantine frescoes dating from the 9th to 11th century – the post-Iconoclastic period. The area of the Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia are UNESCO World Heritage listed and despite man’s constant presence here, the most damage to the area has been from seismic activity.
That isn’t to say the area isn’t popular with tourists. Today you can stay in a boutique hotel or B&B set in a cave dwelling, where you can sip local wines from your balcony as the sun goes down. As the sun rises, you can take a hot air balloon ride over the surreal landscape and later buy some local pottery or a hand-woven rug. However the area has a laidback and local atmosphere, and is a ‘must do’ on any Turkey travel itinerary.