Just 15 minutes from the village center lies the Goreme Open Air Museum. It is a large complex that holds 11 rock-cut monasteries and numerous frescoes. These churches and frescoes were built and completed through the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. Now, after a lot of restoration work, the churches and their frescoes have been returned to their old glory. All the churches are cut and hewn into the rock, you can see little cells and windows in the yellow-brown rock of this hilly area, but the intricacy and skill that went into the making of these structures can be seen once inside. Large, cavernous halls with pillars and arches, the majority of which have been decorated with frescoes depicting incidents and stories from the Old and New testament. The frescoes such as those inside the Church of the Buckle have been done in an indigo blue, a color that still retains its vivid despite so many centuries having passed since they were made.
Pasabag or as the crude translation would have it 'General's Vineyard', is a collection of fairy chimneys located in a vineyard. Fairy chimneys are spire like rock structures that rise from the ground and often may have a large rock or cone right on top. Though the science behind it is confusing, the spectacle is not. These pillars crowned by large conical rocks are a sight that often fills one with trepidation, especially if one is walking around them! Nevertheless, seeing the fairy chimneys on Pasabag, some of which are double or triple capped cones, that is a structure of 3 conjoined pillars instead of a solitary one. Apart from these rock structures, there is also a chapel dedicated to St. Simon here, a reason for which is given in a story that speaks of him coming here to live in seclusion.
Nice restaurant run by a family with the traditional Anatolian cuisine. It's a nice place to have lunch, great food and ambiance. The interior decor of the place echoes the structures that dominate this area, and the cavernous lounge that they have made for people to sit and eat is a hat tip to the architects of old.
The rock of this particular area is of a kind that is malleable and easily crafted. Thus the churches as well as the Uchisar Castle rather than being erected like buildings are structures crafted out of and into the rock faces and the mountainous geography. Uchisar is the highest point in the region and the castle that has been hollowed out into the rock provides excellent views of the region below with Mount Erciyes in the background, seeing tiny holes in the rocks and also numerous fairy chimneys on the land below. Walking through the dark and cool rooms of the castle, up and down stairs cut out of rock, the castle seems like a dwarfish settlement out of one of Tolkiens books! Though erosion and decay have made many areas of the castle inaccessible, many such rooms are used as pigeon houses.
Right below the Uchisar Castle, the connecting link between Goreme and the Uchisar lies the Pigeon Valley. The people of this area used to make pigeon houses in the nooks and crannies that the hilly area provided, to harvest the pigeon excreta to use it as a fertilizer. These pigeon houses were painted white to attract the birds, and the entire landscape is full of such areas with white stone-faces with black holes peeping out at you. These hollowed out the dove-cuts make for a unique and intriguing landscape that you can easily hike through.
Speaking of Dwarves and Tolkien, the Derinkuyu Underground City just might fool you into thinking you are in Middle Earth or at least in the middle of the earth. This city built possible between the 8th - 7th century BC is an underground settlement roughly 60-70 meters in depth. This city would have been home to roughly 20,000 people. It has 5 levels which are connected with a vertical stair case and it has a single ventilation shaft. The city has everything from stables, wineries to chapels. Moreover, this is not the only underground city, there are more, one of them, Kayamikli, is connected to this via an 8 KM tunnel. Even the best fantasy writers and their imagination can't beat this place.
Devrent Valley or the Imagination Valley is a valley of nature's own rock sculptures. Small fairy chimneys abound in this valley, with rock formations contorted into various shapes and sizes. Some of these seem familiar as they seem to resemble animals or hands, others are stranger, but everybody has different takes on what one particular rock formation looks like. This arid, rock filled lunar landscape is a place to let your imagination run wild as you try and find familiar faces and shapes in these fairy chimneys.