sunset over Göreme, Cappadocia

Cappadocia is one of Turkey's treasures, and our time there was magical from start to finish. we based our adventures in the village of Göreme. we arrived in the late afternoon, and the dry desert heat was almost refreshing compared to the week's worth of humidity in Istanbul we had just experienced.

staying on the hillside at the west edge of town, our hotel [Turquaz Cave Hotel above] offered a terrace with stunning views over the surrounding valley. we walked down for dinner and made our way back just as the sun was starting to set. my companions went back to the hotel to rest - since we were waking up at 3am the next morning for a balloon ride.

me? once I saw those golden rays angling over the valley and bouncing off the fairy chimneys and towers of the cave hotels, I grabbed my camera and was gone.

the architecture of Göreme is an interesting mix of ancient and modern, ruins and new construction. the cone-shaped rock formations spotting the landscape are naturally formed. somewhere between the Hittites and the Byzantines [1800 to 1200 BC] dwellings were carved into these chimneys and the surrounding cliffs. early Christians also fled to this area in the 4th century, and carved numerous monasteries and churches nearby.

this fantastical scenery and rich history began to draw a large number of tourists. in 1985 Göreme National Park was designated as a World Heritage Site. what followed was the development of restaurants and hotels in the town. while many of these tout themselves as "cave hotels" - most are outfitted with modern conveniences and have expanded architecturally to add outdoor space and common dining facilities.

I spent my time wandering the back alleys and the edges of the town, much of which was abandoned cave dwellings or partially constructed buildings. I think that most tourists stay closer to the center of town, or across on the other side near the scenic outlook plateau [look for the Turkish flag above.] I definitely took advantage of having the streets practically to myself.

one thing I will mention here, and likely again as I write more about this trip, is that events in Turkey over the past 5 years [and this year especially] have caused a drastic decline in tourism. while Cappadocia is one of the country's major attractions, the town was only at 1/3 to 1/2 capacity. the locals were still there - riding their motorbikes up narrow cobblestone lanes or blocking traffic by driving herds of sheep - but at times it felt a little like a ghost town.

while I truly hope that tourism bounces back, I have to admit I enjoyed the solitude. our entire stay in Göreme felt very peaceful. [in great part due to fantastic Turkish hospitality.] after a bustling week in Istanbul - a romantic solo sunset walk was just what I needed.

much more from Göreme and Cappadocia to come...

linking up for Wanderful Wednesday with: Lauren on Location, Snow in Tromso, What a Wonderful World, and The Sunny Side of This.

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