At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks

GloboTreks is reader-supported through affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support! – Norbert

Have you wondered how it must have been living in a cave surrounded by an unnaturally beautiful valley thousands of years ago? Well, you can get a peek at that lifestyle in Cappadocia, Turkey!

Cappadocia is well known for its nature and caves, which I admit, sparked a bit of my imagination picturing myself as a caveman living there a millennia ago.

“Me Norbert. Me caveman. Caveman likes cave. Caveman likes Cappadocia!”

Ok ok… back to proper English.

Exploring Cappadocia’s Carved Structures

Before visiting Turkey, I had heard much about Cappadocia and how uniquely strange it is. Since I wanted to know more about this interesting place, I took an overnight bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia (since it’s one of the easiest ways to move around Turkey), only to find out that interesting is an understatement.

Cappadocia is a place you have to visit in Turkey.

Since I’m somewhat of a goof sometimes, after learning about all the cave formations, the rock chimneys, and the underground tunnels; I transported myself back to my former caveman self (if I ever had one). Norbert Caveman!

Cappadocia, Turkey
Just, Me… Climbing into a church.

Well, I just kept it under control by just climbing a few chimneys, making a few “oooh, oooh” caveman sounds, and sleeping in a cave. It would have been fun to walk with an arched back and hit people with a wooden stick, but that wouldn’t have been accurate.

In fact, the Caves of Cappadocia are not related to Neanderthal or prehistoric cavemen, but to more developed civilizations of the bronze age. (more on that soon)

Cave Norbert stayed in Goreme, the hub to go to visit most of the major sights in the area and where most Cave houses (or pensions) are located.

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Cappadocia, Turkey
Quite fancy for a caveman…

Once settled in my cave, the first order of business was to take a hike along the valleys in Cappadocia. Here I could see up close the shapes that have made this region so famous and photogenic – the unique natural chimney rock formations.

Seriously, just seeing the stunning raw nature here is one of the most amazing things to do in Cappadocia.

Cave Norbert presents to you… the Fairy Chimneys!

Cappadocia, Turkey

The valley is also known as the Valley of Love… I’ll let you figure it out. Caveman speaks no obscenity.

Sedimentary rocks, formed from volcanic material between 9 and 3 million years ago, were eroded by wind and water into minaret and pillar forms.

Walking in the valley was a beautiful experience since I could walk along green paths and a river and be surrounded by sedimentary rock walls and chimneys on both sides.

From these, the people of the region carved distinctive houses, churches and monasteries, some dating back to the Roman Empire.

Cappadocia, Turkey
Cave Norbert finds a good home.

Beyond the valley, Cave Norbert’s most recommended points to visit are the Goreme Open Air Museum, Uchisar Castle, and Devrent (Imagination) Valley — though, they are very touristy. (you can do them all on your own)

Cappadocia, Turkey
Goreme Open Air Museum

The Goreme Open Air Museum resembles a vast monastic complex composed of scores of refectory monasteries placed side-by-side, each with its own fantastic church.

It contains the finest of the rock-cut churches, with beautiful frescoes that still retain most of their colors and clarity.  It also presents unique examples of rock-hewn architecture and fresco techniques. It’s quite an amazing place to experience and explore.

Cave Norbert wants food here, NOW!

Cappadocia, Turkey

The Uchisar Castle is a Roman rock-cut castle situated at the highest point in Cappadocia and it was built as a fortress by the Byzantine army to shelter the town from any foreign attack.

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The top of the castle provides a magnificent panorama of the surrounding area with Mount Erciyes in the distance. The castle contains many rooms hollowed out into the rock, with most of them connected to each other with stairs, tunnels, and passages.

Uchisar Castle in Cappadocia, Turkey
Uchisar Castle

Also very curious are the pigeon houses (dovecuts) as you can see on the far left in the picture below (the very small holes). Farmers used these cave pigeon houses to collect the droppings of pigeons, which is an excellent natural fertilizer for the orchards and vineyards.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Devrent Valley, on the other hand, was never inhabited and it doesn’t have any cave houses or buildings. But, its lunar landscape and rock shapes make it well worth a visit. Want to guess why it is called also called Imagination Valley? See the two pictures below that Cave Norbert took there.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia, Turkey

Did you see any shapes? The first one is a seal and the second is a rock pillar that looks like the Virgin Mary holding Jesus Christ.  Or so they say.

But the soil beneath Cappadocia hides other, equally intriguing sites that Cave Norbert visited – the ancient underground cities.

The Hittites were apparently the ones who began the underground cities circa 1200 BC. They were later occupied by the Assyrian, Frig, and Pers. Many of them used the underground tunnels to protect themselves from wild animals, harsh weather, and enemies.

Then different ancient empires ruled the area until the Romans came to the region. Eventually, the Christians moved to the underground cities to escape the persecution of the Roman Empire.

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For this reason, Early Christianity came to the area in the first century after Christ and remained strong for centuries, eventually developing the orthodox Christian theology.

Much of what is seen today is the remains of the Christian civilizations. Then, the Seljuk established here, followed by the Ottomans.

Cappadocia, Turkey
Ventilation and supply delivery shaft into the underground city.

The biggest and deepest of them all is Derinkuyu underground city. Even though the Hittites commenced the excavation of these troglodyte cave-cities, it is known that most of the levels were dug out by early Christians to provide them with refuge from persecution from the Romans and later from the invading Arabs.

This city has about 600 outside doors that serve as an entrance, hidden in the courtyards of surface dwellings. Inside, there are stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, churches, wineries, etc. It literally is a city!

Cappadocia, Turkey
An underground room with one of the round “trap” doors.

Since they were used for protection, there are also a few trap rooms. Unwary soldiers could be caught in the many traps laid throughout the labyrinthine corridors, such as stones which could be rolled to block doorways and holes in the ceiling through which spears and hot oil could be dropped.

In addition, invaders were further outwitted by the Christian builders who made the tunnels narrow, forcing them to fight almost in a single line (making it easier to counter-attack them one by one).

Cappadocia, Turkey
A funky, blurry image inside one of the small tunnels.

Cave Norbert loves smart-fighting-persecuted-Christian underground tunnels!!

Now… Cave Norbert is Tired. Cave Norbert will sleep. But Cave Norbert hopes you enjoyed his description of the sights he saw in Cappadocia and that you visit too.

Oooh, oooh!

Adventure Awaits


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  1. These caves look awesome! They even have trapdoors and everything. I never even knew this place exited, thanks for sharing with a great article.

    1. It does! I love these caves, not only for the historical sense but also they are so impressive in the way they were built!

  2. Dear Norbert,
    Thank you for showing me Cappadocia from my lounge. I’m 75, so most likely won’t get there in my life.