Cappadocia has many wonderful and unique things to see and do. On a typical one to three day trip, you will be fully occupied no matter your interests. But what if you’re going for longer or if this is not your first visit to the region? Well, there are many lesser known things you can do, such as checking out the doll ladies at Sognali or search for hidden rock churches in Cappadocia’s many valleys. Here are four other examples of “off the beaten track” places to check out the next time you’re in the area:
What I loved about this town is its fabulous architecture. My favourite bits weren’t grand or modern or “city-like” but rather, they were historic and unique to my eyes. The small town of Mustafapasa used to be primarily Greek during the Ottoman times and was called Sinasos back then. It was a rich place with many stone mansions. In 1923, there was a forced population exchange between Greece and Turkey when the latter became independent. Since then, the town was apparently repopulated with Muslim families from the Balkans and many chose not to live in the vacated houses.
Unless you manage to wrangle an invite inside one of the stone homes or find one that is abandoned, you’ll have to be satisfied with admiring the carvings and facades. This is not a loss since the outsides generally still have an air of grandeur and beauty. Keep your eye out for distinctive decorations such as geometric shapes, lions, and horns. Another piece of architecture to check out is the front door and portal of the Şakir Paşa Medrese, a university that dates back to the Ottoman era. The front door is wooden and the portal is stone, both beautifully carved.
One of Cappadocia’s many valleys; this one gets its name because of all the pink rocks. The pink apparently varies depending on light conditions so it could be light pink or darker pink when you go. And go you should because it’s a lesser visited valley and as such, you could very well have it to yourself. There are rock churches and houses to explore as well as paths of various levels of difficulty. The one thing I love about Cappadocia’s valleys is that you really do feel like you’re on another planet – the landscape is just phenomenal.
Cappadocia is amazingly full of evidence from its long long history. If you’re willing to go even more off the beaten path, rent a car or find a tour that goes to Sobesos. Here, you’ll find an excavation site that is sadly on hold due to a lack of funding. Oddly enough, Sobesos is free to visit (missed source of income but great for visitors). Rediscovered in 2002, Sobesos is an ancient Roman city. Not much has been unearthed yet but you can see evidence of a bathhouse’s really neat underfloor heating structure and several large geometric mosaics in fantastic condition. It is not often one can wander around an excavation site so here is your chance!
Everyone visits the Goreme Open Air Museum and rightfully so. But if you have the time, you should also check out the Zelve Open Air Museum which is pretty neat in its own way. Zelve used to hold a large community and is full of secular and religious architecture (both Islamic and Christian), frescoes, and daily life items (i.e. mill with a grindstone). In the 1950s, Zelve was abandoned due to the threat of erosion. It normally takes a couple hours to wander the whole area but if you do go via tour, you’ll only get a taste of it. So consider renting a car and going out on your own – you would then be free to climb and wander all the hidden nooks and crannies of one of Cappadocia’s earliest settled communities.