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A Taste of Turkey’s Central Anatolia

Turkey’s central Anatolia is home to the world famous Lunar Landscape, magical Cappadocia Holidays have been popular since the 1980’s and there’s plenty of reasons why. Set on the plateau of Anatolia, Cappadocia is a historically rich region, known for its abnormal rock formations and excavated cave homes, rock churches and man-made pigeon homes. However the region also hosts a number of small villages which still maintain their heritage and traditions and offer a little taste of Turkey’s Anatolia.

History

The earliest archeological records of Cappadocia date back to 5500 BC, throughout the years the region has been inhabited early Christian refugees from the 4th to the 11th century which explains why so many rock-hewn churches and monasteries can be found the area, Monks, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks, Ottomans, Persians, Romans and Hittite civilisations, who are thought to have settled in the region from 1,800 BC to 1,200 BC. It was once a significant point on the Silk Road trading route, where travelers would rest in caravanserai before continuing their journeys. The fresco adorned churches within the goreme UNESCO Open Air Museum were left abandoned and were rediscovered in the early 1900’s by a French Priest. From then on the rich history of Cappadocia has been gradually rediscovered and restored and the region has become a favorite holiday location among both national and international tourists.

Delicious Cappadocian Foods

If you’re planning to stay a spend a few days or more in the Cappadocia region then you’ll probably be wondering what there is to eat. Well the list of local foods and tasty dishes is pretty long. Thanks to Cappadocia’s central location the cuisine is a fantastic mix, with Mediterranean, Eastern European and Asian influences.

One of the most famous dishes local to the region is Pottery Kebab which originates from the town of Avanos. Otherwise known as Testi Kebab, this specialty dish is made by preparing lamb, beef or chicken with winter vegetables like carrots, onions and potatoes, in a terracotta pot which is then sealed with dough and left to cook inside a clay oven for about 4 hours. In a traditional restaurant the pot is taken from the oven, brought directly to the table and cracked open, still sizzling and releasing a mouth watering aroma. Bon Appetite.

Authentic Cappadocian Villages

Cappadocia is a vast region, encompassing 5 states within Central Anatolia, however many of authentic rural villages lay within half an hour of the Avanos-Goreme-Uchisar central triangle and can be visited with day trips from any of these towns.

The town of Avanos is best known for its production of pottery and ceramic, a tradition which dates back to when the Hittites occupied the region. The clay for their red tinted pottery comes from deposits below the Kizilirmak which translates as Red River. Handmade crafts are sold from the many small stores and street stalls that fill the town cobbled stone street and craftsmen open their doors invite tourists visit their workshops, many of these will have been in their families for generations.

The busy market town of Urgup is little more touristy but still hosts genuine examples of rural life. The centre of the village is occupied by an open food market selling anything from fresh fruits to meat, cheeses, homemade preservative and local beverages. Around the quaint streets are handmade souvenirs on display as well as an original Ottoman Hammam where you can get a scrub down and massage before tasting some local wines or visiting Burgut Castle.

Few visitors make it to the village of Belisirma, where a handful of restaurant sit on the banks of the Melendiz River and a collection of old Greek stone houses cling to the slopes of the Ilhara valley. Not only is this a unique sight in the Cappadocia region it is also a pleasant hike through the valley past rock Hewn Churches and the impressive Selime Monastery to reach Belisirma.

Cave Hotels

Since the stone ages humans have been carving their homes into the soft volcanic tuff which makes up much of the terrain in the region. Fortunately the old tradition hasn’t died out and Cappadocian families are still living inside the rocks. While troglodyte cave homes were fairly bare and basic, nowadays many of these ancient homes have been converted into comfortable guesthouses and luxury cave hotels with natural air conditioning and quirky rustic decor.

Music & Dance

If you’ve ever been to a Turkish party or wedding then you will know that music and dance are a major part of the culture and a Turkish Night Show in Cappadocia is always a fun and lively experience. From Whirling Dervishes to traditional folk dances, belly dancing and fire dancing or just a traditional wedding dance, Cappadocian music and dance is a fantastic blend of cultures and something quite individual to Central Anatolia.