Cappadocia, a semi-arid region in central Turkey, is known for its distinctive fairy chimneys –tall, cone-shaped rock formations clustered in Monks Valley, Göreme and elsewhere. Other notables sites include Bronze Age homes carved into valley walls by troglodytes (cave dwellers) and later used as refuges by early Christians. The 100m-deep Ihlara Canyon houses numerous rock-face churches.
Erosion shaped the incredible landscape of Turkey’s Göreme valley, but thousands of years ago humans took a cue from Mother Nature and began carving an incredible chamber and tunnel complex into the soft rock. Beginning in the fourth century A.D., an urbanized—but underground—cultural landscape was created here.
Ancient volcanic eruptions blanketed this region with thick ash, which solidified into a soft rock—called tuff—tens of meters thick. Wind and water went to work on this plateau, leaving only its harder elements behind to form a fairy tale landscape of cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms, and chimneys, which stretch as far as 130 feet (40 meters) into the sky.
Human hands have performed equally incredible works here. The rocky wonderland is honeycombed with a network of human-created caves; living quarters, places of worship, stables, and storehouses were all dug into the soft stone. In fact, tunnel complexes formed entire towns with as many as eight different stories hidden underground.
Göreme was inhabited as early as the Hittite era, circa 1800 to 1200 B.C. and later sat uncomfortably on the boundary between rival empires; first the Greeks and Persians and later the Byzantine Greeks and a host of rivals. This precarious political position meant that residents needed hiding places—and found them by tunneling into the rock itself.
The site became a religious refuge during the early days of Christianity. By the fourth century Christians fleeing Rome’s persecution had arrived in some numbers and established monastic communities here. The monks excavated extensive dwellings and monasteries and created Byzantine frescoed paintings in cave chapels beginning in the seventh century, which endure in well-preserved isolation to this day.
Göreme is rich with history, but not all of Cappadocia’s troglodyte dwellings are museums. Some still serve as homes and others as hotels, which offer a truly unique hospitality experience.
The primary threats to this World Heritage site come from the forces that created it in the first place. Erosion is returning some human endeavours to a more natural state, and extensive preservation efforts are meant to ensure that the wonders of Göreme survive for another millennium. With a slowly increasing tourist trade, however, humans have brought modern development and damage or destruction to some of the ancient sites they once created.
Why not join us before everyone else discovers this wonderland and spoils it!
This exclusive and unique, Solent Events tour has been designed for a comfortable, maximum of just 15/25 passengers, so if you would like to be one of the first to experience this great-value holiday in the heart of Turkey, please book as soon as possible. Our Earlybird price may help you decide!
The non-refundable deposit is just £150pp and we have a special Earlybird price until mid-April 2020!
EARLYBIRD PRICE £1,989pp
EXTENDED UNTIL 31 May 2020
For your peace of mind and financial protection, our holiday has
been arranged with Success Tours who are fully bonded.
Luxury executive coach pick-up from our four normal pick-ups at Stokes Bay, Gosport, Lee on the Solent, Stubbington & Fareham.
Coach pick-up may also be from Botley Road, Southampton. Enjoy the comfort of an airport lounge at the airport (LHR or LGW).
Scheduled flight to Istanbul – approx 3hrs 40mins.
Upon arrival we will be met by our local coach and guide for the transfer to our centrally situated 4*+ Levni Hotel in Istanbul. Dinner in hotel restaurant.
Day 2 – After breakfast, we will depart on a full day guided tour of Istanbul, including visits to St. Sophia, the cathedral built by Emperor Justinian in 537 which was the largest church in Christendom for a thousand years, the Byzantine Hippodrome with its various monuments including a 3500-year-old red granite obelisk brought from Egypt and erected here in 390 AD. The Ottoman Empire produced marvelous architecture and we’ll see two of its finest
works: Topkapi Palace, home of the sultans and the famed Blue Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I. After these visits, we
visit the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar. Later returning to our hotel. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 3 – Today we will receive a half day guided tour of Istanbul starting with a visit to Dolmabahce Palace: This area was originally the bay where the navy anchored in the early periods when the Ottomans conquered Istanbul. The place was chosen as the site of the new palace by Sultan Abdulmecit I, since it was by the sea side and close to the city centre. Cross the Bosphorus Bridge for the chance to step from one continent (Europe) to another (Asia) within a few minutes. Visit Camlica Hill which is one of the highest point of the Bosphorus and Istanbul. The Camlica Hill has a wonderful panorama including the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, Historical Peninsula and islands. Later, we return to the hotel for some relaxation. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 4 – After breakfast and check out, we transfer with our guide to Istanbul Airport for the internal flight to Kayseri Airport. Upon arrival we will be met for the local transfer to our unique and beautiful 4*+ Tafoni Cave Hotel in Cappadocia. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 5 – After breakfast today we visit the Devrent Valley to see the unique fairy-chimneys. The small fairy chimneys in the valley form a lunar landscape, or moonscape, by their strange look. The valley also has many animal shaped rocks. We continue onto Pasabagi (Monk’s Valley) to see the most interesting mushroom-shaped pinnacles which rear up from the surrounding vineyards. In the afternoon we visit the Open Air Museum in Goreme where the remains of rock-cut
churches and Christian settlements date back hundreds of years to the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. Return to the hotel for dinner.
Day 6 – After breakfast our guide will take us on a walking tour through the Rose Valley, an incredibly unique area of Cappadocia with sharp ridges, tinted in pink especially during sunset. We visit the churches in the area, fabulous, little rock-cut churches boasting vibrant fresco fragments and intricate carvings in the stone. Afterwards we visit the old Christian village of Cavusin, one of the oldest villages in Cappadocia. We continue on to see the Kaymakli Underground City, which features a maze of tunnels and rooms carved deep into the earth. We also visit the Ortahisar natural rock castle, an 18m-high rock outcrop which was used as a fortress in Byzantine times. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 7 – After check out of our hotel time of day TBC with flight times) we transfer to Kayseri Airport for the internal flight back to Istanbul and the
onward return flight back to the UK.
The exact order of excursions is subject to change and flight time dependent.
A brief outline of our special hotels in Istanbul and Cappadocia:
Istanbul: 4*+ Levni Hotel
This luxurious hotel has an ideal location set in the heart of the old town of Istanbul, approx 12 minutes walk from Topkapi Palace. Conveniently located in the very heart of the old town of Istanbul, it is easy to reach the must-see attractions and to further discover local spots in both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul with little effort.
After a day full of visits, you will be able to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of our well-being spa center as well as discover a variety of tastes from Istanbul cuisine from our Gourmet Restaurant. The hotel features its own bar, restaurant and spa including Turkish Hammam, sauna and indoor pool. Each of the modern en suite bedrooms come equipped with TV, telephone, safe box, hairdryer and tea/coffee maker. Hotel Website: http://www.levnihotel.com/en
Cappadocia: 4*+Tafoni Houses Cave Hotel
The unique and luxurious Cave Hotel is situated in a small town. With its unique location in Ortahisar Village, literally meaning Middle Fortress, Tafoni Houses offers the discerning traveler convenience of being minutes away from major sites as well as proposing an ambience of seclusion and tranquility.
Having thirteen spacious suites that are hosted in ancient cave dwellings, accommodation at Tafoni Houses expresses finess and elegance accessorized by objets d’art and art deco furniture. With its spacious outdoor terraces and lush landscaping, Tafoni Houses offers the aura of a private club where guests can enjoy socially inviting ambiences, or else, they may prefer to disappear for an intimate getaway. The hotel features its own indoor and outdoor restaurant and each of the ensuite rooms are unique in style and size and come equipped with TV and free WiFi.
As soon as the sun rises, upon hearing the ballads of chanting sparrows and hoopoes, you will feel that you are at a fabled place …immersed in an enchanting ambience of pastoral life located in the midst of cave homes of local villagers. Taking a morning stroll through the narrow streets and alleys of Ortahisar Village, as a gesture of traditional hospitality, you may be invited into homes of locals who will greet you with warm smiles, offering you a glass of home-made lemonade or a slice of halva. Embraced by Greco-Mediterranean stone-built houses, you will be exposed to a non-commercialized, authentic ambience of daily life of the indigenous people that may walk by you with their mules, or flocks of sheep and cattle.
The Story of this unique cave hotel: In 2006 a series of ancient cave dwellings, and stone-built houses that were inhabited continuously by the descending civilizations, have been purchased from the current owners, locals of Ortahisar, for the purpose of developing an authentic cave property that would reflect the “culture of cave living”. Since Cappadocia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, necessary projects were done with utmost attention paid to remain loyal to authenticity of architecture. After the approval of the “resurrection projects” by the Historical Monuments Council of Ministry of Tourism and Culture, in 2008 an arduous work has started to create one of the most elegant cave properties of Cappadocia. By the end of 2012, Tafoni Houses was born with a chic, effeminate and eloquent identity presenting itself as a unique cave accommodation for the discerning traveller.
The word “Tafoni” has two distinct meanings: One is a geological term that refers to features on various kinds of rock including tiny pits, soft-ball sized cavities and larger caves. These Tafoni are created by weathering and erosions on the surface of the rock structure.
The second is also a Turkish word of significance to Cappadocia. The local residents refer to the bird nests that appear on top of mystical fairy chimneys as Tafoni.
As a homage to Cappadocia, its nature and its wonderful people, each and every single one of the hotel suites are named after birds of Cappadocia.
Tafoni Hotel are waiting anxiously for our visit to our Nest and host us with the utmost diligence and everlasting hospitality!
Hotel Website: http://www.tafonicavehotel.com/Levni Hotel