The surreal rock formations and valleys of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cappadocia

The surreal rock formations and valleys of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cappadocia

Resembling a Star Trek set designed by Salvador Dali, Cappadociais a bizarre world of rainbow-striped cliff faces, armies of grand twisting stone pinnacles, giant mushrooms of rock and tortuous lunar-style gorges. Volcanoes did their work here a millennium ago, and a walk surrounds you with vivid examples of the earth’s creative power – one look at the frenzy of phallic rock sculptures in the appropriately named Love Valley, and you’ll swear they were the work of a lust-crazed artist, not formed by nature’s hand.

The red volcanic cliffsand basalt columnsof a beautiful gorge surround the verdant valley floor, awash with vineyards, poplar and pistachio trees, all fed by the rushing Melendiz River. The Ilhara Valley is a sinuous 16 km-long slice of heavenly scenery, made even more spectacular by man’s imprint. Over a hundred ancient churches are here, attractive byzantine chapels carved into the cliff faces with evocative names like Serpent Church, Hyacinth Church, and Dark Castle Church. Touring these unique chapels, some with elaborate frescoes, then following the river through the antique gorge is a serene, wonderful adventure. And if the heat becomes a little strong, look out for a river-pool to dip your toes into.

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