Along with Pammukale, Cappadocia is one of the most amazing places in Turkey. You should spare at least 3 days for walks in the valleys with fanciful mushroom-shaped rocks and exploration of the ancient churches and monasteries cut in these rocks.
The landscape of Cappadocia has been shaped for many thousand years. The nearby volcanoes (such as Mount Erciyes and Mount Hasan) covered the ground with soft tuff and solid lava, and then the rock structures were eroded by wind and water. So appeared in Cappadocia the «towers» and «chimneys», that is, stone pillars reaching the height of 30 - 50 meters. These pillars are among the heaps of solid rocks covering the mountain sides.
The area of Cappadocia where you can find this natural phenomenon is about 10 thousand sq. kilometers, but the most protected is an area of 90 square meters. Goereme is a tourist center of Cappadocia, so when coming in Cappadocia you should stay only in this small village. The village has many hotels, with most of them inside one of the mushroom-shaped rocks.
If you decided to buy a one-day bus tour of Cappadocia, which are most often offered at the resort of Antalya, you should be aware that you will be taken to an open air museum where you can see but two mushroom-shaped rocks with dwellings inside of them. They will only guide you around them, tell some historical facts, and take a lot of money for all this. During such excursion you won`t see even 20% of the beauties of Cappadocia.
Near Goreme are several valleys that you can reach on foot. And to the other places you will have to go by car or some other transport vehicle. The main on-foot tourist route of Cappadocia is a path going through the Rose Valley. This route is very interesting and not-uniform. Apart from high and low mushrooms and chimneys, you will also see canyons and mountain slopes of white and rosy sand.
Zemi Valley and Pigeon valley are within easy walking distance of Goreme. The most interesting sight of Cappadocia is the earth pyramids of Pasabag, (Pasha`s Vineyard), where the most curious `chimneys` are located, but they are rather far from Goreme.
And by all means should you visit the Love Valley. You can penetrate it from the wide side (from the side of Cavusin), but you should do it from the side of Uchisar, where the valley is started by a narrow strip of 1 meter long. Then the valley gets wider and turns into a canyon, the walls of which are over a hundred meters high and several hundred meters wide. But in the Love Valley nearly all pillars resemble not mushrooms but phalli. One of them has a shape of perfect phallus (reaching the height of 30 meters). You will need most of the day to look around the Love Valley.
Since tuff is a soft material, people cut their dwellings, churches and even the entire cities in the rocks. As to the dwellings in the mushroom-shaped rocks, you can find thousands of them all over Cappadocia. Some of these dwellings are still inhabited while the other ones are abandoned. During the period of the Byzantine Empire, from 6 through 9 centuries, Goreme was one of the largest Christian center of the empire.
There were over 400 churches in its environs. According to some sources, it was in Cappadocia that Saint George (the Victorious) was born, grew and was promoted to the rank of Tribunus under the Roman emperor Diocletian. After the terrible death he became one of the most venerable saints as St. George the Victorious.
The Dark Church dating back to the 13 century is the best preserved church in Cappadocia. Light penetrate the church through a small window, so the walls paintings remained in perfect condition. Here are some other interesting churches of Cappadocia: Tokal? Church (Old and New), Sakli Church, El-Nazar Church, and Charykli Church.
In Goreme you can buy a quite curious tour of the Underground City of Derinkuyu and the Ikhlar Gorge. They are far enough from Goreme, but are worth visiting. Derinkuyu is the largest underground city in Cappadocia (of 36). It has 8 floors and 52 air wells (reaching the height of 70-85 meters). In the Middle Ages the population of the city was about 10 thousand people. Ikhlar Gorge is very beautiful even though you can find there no chimneys as in Goreme. But in the gorge you can look at several well-preserved Christian churches.