Monday, December 9th 2019

Kaymakli underground city, Uchisar castle and Pigeon valley in Cappadochia – Day Two

Second day started early. Precisely at 5.30. We woke up to watch the hot air balloons at sunrise. 1,5 hour & 150 pictures later went back to sleep to wake up for breakfast in two hours. Sightseeing program was intense – underground cities to visit, Uchisar castle to climb, valleys to hike….No time to waste. There are over 30 underground cities in Cappadochia. Derinkuyu is the deepest one, while Kaymakli is the widest. Derinkuyu underground city was chosen initially, but we happen to visit Kaymakly just because a minibus driver told us to get off at a wrong stop. The entrance to the underground city is according to good touristic traditions through a souvenir  market ;-)

Kaymakli underground city was built under the hill known as the Citadel of Kaymakli and was opened to visitors in 1964. The people of Kaymakli village have constructed their houses around nearly one hundred tunnels of the underground city. The inhabitants of the region still use the most convenient places in the tunnels as cellars, storage areas and stables, which they access through their courtyards.

Cappadochia Kaymakli undeground city 02

The Kaymakli Underground City has low, narrow and sloping passages. While the underground city consists of 8 floors below ground, only 4 of them are open to the public today, in which the spaces are organized around ventilation shafts.

Cappadochia Kaymakli undeground city 02

There are rooms and halls connecting to each other with narrow corridors, wine tanks, water cistern, kitchens and food stores, ventilation shafts, water wells, churches and large round lock stones.  Lock stones are circular and have a hole in the middle. These stones (picture below) close the entrance by vertical position in the special section at the entrance of the tunnel.

Cappadochia Kaymakli undeground city 03

The deepest point you can visit is under 20 meters. Kaymakli was built in around a main ventilation chimney (picture below). The ventilation system is so successful that no problem breathing even on the fourth floor.

Cappadochia Kaymakli undeground city 04

The underground city used to have all housing conditions for temporary housing of big groups of people.

Cappadochia Kaymakli undeground city 06

Cappadochia Kaymakli undeground city 07

It is a really interesting place despite being quite touristy. Once you are underground you can explore all the rooms on 4 levels open for visitors. Some of the tunnels and staircases vanish into darkness. Make sure you take a torch with you as it will surely enhance the experience.

After my companions had enough of stairs, tunnels, windows, air shafts and just holes in darkness we left Kaymakli underground city and explored the hill above it. The hill itself has a lot of cut entrances and rooms plus remnants of houses on top of it. You can clearly see that the houses used to have entrances leading down. After we left the ruins around the hill we roamed a bit in the village streets and found a nice street cafe for lunch.

During lunch we had unexpected interaction with a local family – grandfather, son, and daughter/granddaughter. The old man spoke some German, and we used our minimal Turkish. We shared some watermelon and took some pictures. People in Turkey are very friendly and curious. They approach us very often and talk to us willing to help or give advice.

local people kaymakli cappadochia

After lunch we took a bus back to Nevsehir and further to Uchisar castle.

Uchisar is situated at the highest point in Cappadocia, on the Nevsehir-Goreme road, just 5 km from Goreme. The top of the Uchisar Castle provides a magnificent panorama of the surrounding area. You can see below the view over Goreme from the Uchisar castle.

Cappadochia Goreme from Uhcisar castle

Rooms cut out into the rock are connected to each other with stairs and tunnels. At the entrances of the rooms, there are lock stone doors, just like the ones in the underground settlements, used to control access to these places. It is unfortunately not possible to see all the rooms due to the erosion of the rock.

Cappadochia Uhcisar castle 01

Cappadochia Uhcisar castle 02

The views from the castle are simply gorgeous and we spent some time just watching the valleys run in all directions from the castle.

Cappadochia Uhcisar castle 04

There are many so called pigeon houses in Pigeon Valley which connects Uchisar to Goreme. Most of these cave dwellings have been painted white to attract the birds and their valuable droppings. Farmers used these cave pigeon houses to collect the droppings of pigeons which is an excellent natural fertilizer for the orchards and vineyards.

Cappadochia Uhcisar

It was decided to hike back to Goreme instead of taking a minibus as the Pigeon valley takes us straight there.

Cappadochia Goreme Guyercinlik valley 01

The valley is surrounded by eroded walls and sharp rock with remaining rooms and churches. The walk was fairy-tale like and views were just as unbelievable as everything else around Cappadochia. Deep abyss cuts through the center of the valley. Some places are impassable and we had to walk back and detour. At some point we could’t continue. A big deep cracked blocked the way. The path led across one of the valley wall just to fall down into the crack. There was no way we could continue.

Cappadochia Goreme Guyercinlik valley 02

When we were about to walk back, we saw two elderly man – a local and a foreigner. The former was a farmer who had a house in the Pigeon valley, the latter – a Canadian tourist. The Canadian man was following us, and the Turkish one followed the Canadian. Neither us, not the Canadian knew the way to the other side of the valley. The must be a way around but no one knew where. A Croatian couple joined us. Now we were 7 people how needed to be saved.

Cappadochia Goreme Guyercinlik valley 03

The Turkish farmer happened to be our Savior guide. He waved us to follow him. And we followed …..climbing up, walking through a dark tunnel, walking down steep paths on edges falling down into deep cracks, then crawling down rocks like spiders. Some of us had to make serious efforts to pass these seemingly impassable paths. Surprisingly the old man was walking casually fast, looking back at times with an air of impatience, like saying: Why are you so slow?….The man was walking in very old broken slippers, which he showed to us after we passed to the other side of the valley. Being thankful to the old farmer we paid him some money to buy new shoes.

Cappadochia Goreme Guyercinlik valley 05

Tired but happy with the Indiana Jones adventures (Ok, not 100% Indiana Jones, but still really cool!) we reached Goreme…

If you go to Cappadochia make sure you visit one of the underground cities (Derinkuyu or Kaymakli), Uchisar castle and hike some of the gorgeous valleys around Goreme.


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6 Comments on “Kaymakli underground city, Uchisar castle and Pigeon valley in Cappadochia – Day Two”

  1. Hi Alex and Mara, Im from Malaysia and currently planning to go to Cappadochia from Istanbul. I have some questions to ask, how do you get the minibus from Goreme to Kaymakli? Do they have the minibus to go to other places as well(like orthahisar, pasabag and etc) and do we need to book it first? Thanks! =)

    1. Hi Aini,
      I am sure you will like the place. There are minibuses going from the bus station in the center of Goreme, they go to all small towns around. Ticket price is 2-3TL.
      When you go to Kaymakli you will need to take a bus to Nevsehir first. Once arrive to Nevsehir, just cross to the opposite side, there will be a bus stop from where you can take a bus to Kaymakli. Tell a bus driver to stop at Kaymakli. You don’t need to book anything, just go to the bus station in the center.
      Try hitchhiking. On short distances it is quite easy and people are very friendly. We were 4 people and managed to get rides.

      If you need accomodation, try this place – Reasonable prices, friendly staff, good rooftop terrace, close to the center.

      Enjoy your trip and let us know if you have any more questions about Turkey or Cappadochia.

      1. Thank you for the information, I really appreciate it. Do you think the minibus is available on Saturday and how frequent it is? I am planning just a day trip to go to Pasabag, Goreme Open Air Museum, Uchisar and Kaymakli underground city. Because at night we will go back to Istanbul. Do you think its possible and can you please give any suggestion for me for the day trip? (We actually plan just to have a short vacation in Istanbul and go to Greece, but after we jumped on your website and saw the picture of Cappadocia, we suddenly make the plan to go for a day trip to Cappadocia. The picture is really great!). Thanks again.

        1. Thank you, Aini! I am happy you liked the pics. Cappadchia is really great. But 1 day is a bit too little.
          Minibuses work there everyday. I don’t think you will have problems with that. It might be difficult to visit all four places in one day. And you will be tired after night bus. But anyway Pasabag is not far from Goreme Open Air Museum, and you can come back to the main street of Goreme and take a minibus or hithchike in the direction of Avanos, to Zelve valley. Then take transport back to Nevsehir and go to Kaymakli city. and if you have time on the way back, you will stop by at Uhcisar castle. When you take a bus from Nevsehir to Goreme tell a driver to stop at Uhcisar.
          So it really depends on how fast you visit the sights, and how fast you manage to get a ride, but i think it is doable, though maybe a bit tough. I guess you will be taking a night bus from Goreme to Istanbul.
          Enjoy it!

  2. Hi, I just happened across this blog entry when i was researching how to get from Uchisar to Kaymakli. We are planning a similiar itinerary to the one you followed above, but in reverse (hike from Goreme to Uchisar, then take a bus to Kaymakli and then back to Goreme). Do you think this is possible? Do the busses regularly stop at Uchisar or only if someone requests that they do? Just wondering how easy it would be to get the bus from Uchisar to Nevsehir. I would do it in the same order you did, but we will be there in late October and I am worried we will run out of day light on the hike back to Goreme (especially since we don’t fly into Goreme until 8:15am that morning). Thanks!

    1. I think it should be easy to get a bus. just wave any and tell where u need to go. we also hitch-hiked around Goreme, was easy. normally bus from Goreme goes to Nevsehir, then u need to change to a bus going to Kaymakli. Enjoy! We loved the place.

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