Cappadocia – Ürgüp, Turkey

For Those Who Think They’ve Seen It All, Think Again

A trip to the steppes of Central Anatolia is the next best thing to intergalactic travel, at a fraction of the cost and inconvenience. Centuries of wind and water have sculpted a surrealistic landscape from the soft volcanic terrain: minarets, cones, spires, “fairy chimneys,” and rocky pinnacles in shades of pinks and russet-brown soar as high as five-story buildings and cover an area of about 50 square miles.

Ancient inhabitants of Cappadocia hol­lowed out the tufa cones and cliffs to create troglodyte-style cave dwellings that are still lived in today. A major trade route between East and West, Cappadocia was home to a dozen dif­ferent civilizations. The early Christians arrived in the 4th century, sculpting from the rock domed churches, complete with vaulted ceil­ings, columns, and pews. T

he open-air museum is the site of an ancient monastic colony, once said to have had more than 400 churches, her­mitages, and small monasteries. Today fifteen are open to the public. Some of the simple fres­coes date back to the 8th century, but it’s the rich Byzantine frescoes of the 10th and 13th cen­turies that are the most astonishing.

Modern-day troglodytes must head for the utterly unique and charming Yunak Evleri hotel, a romantic web of tastefully restored connecting caves dating back as far as the 5th century.

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