Many people are familiar with the seven churches of Revelation and Paul’s travels across Asia Minor spreading the gospel. Today, this area is in Turkey. While Cappadocia was not one of the seven churches named in Revelation, this area was one of the first places to be influenced by Christianity, since Cappadocians were among those who heard Peter’s sermon and were baptized on the day of Pentecost.
On the Anatolia Plateau within a volcanic landscape, Cappadocia can look like a scene from another world. The honeycomb hills, towering boulders and small narrow valleys create a peculiar but stunning backdrop for anything from pampering at a resort to hiking. The stone pillars are called fairy chimneys or hoodoos and are similar to rock formations in Bryce Canyon National Park and other areas of the Badlands and Colorado Plateau regions of the United States.
Cappadocia is also famous for its cave hotels, nestled into the hillside and built out of stone or hewn from the mountain rock. Many of the hotels feature dreamy views of the fairy chimneys. Some of the most popular are the Museum Hotel Cappadocia, the Cappadocia Cave Suites and the Kelebek Special Cave Hotel.
Where in the Bible?
Cappadocia is mentioned in Acts 2:9 as one of the nations from which devout Jews traveled to Jerusalem, where they heard Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost.
Top Attractions for Church Groups
• Rose Valley — The collection of walking trails that loop around Gulludere Vadisi, which means Rose Valley, can accommodate walkers of all levels who wish to experience the Cappadocian landscape. Visitors traversing the trails will see rock-cut churches, vibrantly colored fresco fragments and stone carvings.
• Derinkuyu — This underground city, first hewn from volcanic rock in the Byzantine age, is large enough to have sheltered 20,000 people and all their belongings. Derinkuyu is the largest and deepest excavated underground city in Turkey, and about half of the city is accessible to tourists today.
• Eski Gumus Monastery — The Eski Gumus Monastery is the southernmost monastery in Cappadocia and was not excavated until 1963. Among the many well-preserved frescos, considered some of the greatest depictions of Byzantines in the region, is one that is believed to be the only fresco to depict a smiling portrait of Mary and the Christ child.
• Churches of Goreme — The churches of Goreme is a collection of churches that have been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The churches, carved from Cappadocia’s volcanic landscape, originated as a Byzantine settlement that was home to about 20 monks. Today, visitors are welcome to tour the monastic complex at the Goreme Open-Air Museum.
• Haci Bektas Veli Museum — This serene lodge was once home to followers of the Bektashi faith. Today, visitors can learn about the Bektashi movement through artifacts followers used and created, including instruments and jewelry. Visitors will also enjoy strolling through the beautiful gardens and seeing colorful architectural designs throughout the museum.
Must Have Experiences Around Cappadocia
Must-Do: A hot-air-balloon tour over Cappadocia is a bucket-list-worthy experience for any group.
Must-Taste: Doner kebabs are highly recommended. These succulent skewers are rich in flavor, with grilled meat generously covered in herbs and spices. Try them alone, wrapped in pita or stuffed in a flatbread wrap know as durum.
Bring it Home: Turkish coffee is iconic around the world. Coffee lovers will want to relive the experience by bringing home a copper cezve pot, small coffee cups and, of course, the coffee to share the good brews with good friends stateside.
Photo Op: Visitors love taking selfies with the famous Cappadocian fairy chimneys in the background.
For more information on planning a trip to Cappadocia, Turkey go to www.goturkeytourism.com