Cappadocia was a refuge for the early Christians, who escaped persecution by living and worshipping underground. There are an estimated 3000 rock churches in this region, not all of which are open to the public. Some have amazing frescoes, which have been extremely well preserved. Some of the highlights include Göreme where some of the most impressive of the churches are located in the Göreme Open Air Museum, which, for the most part, date from the 9th-11th centuries. The village of Göreme itself is at the heart of the area’s tourism industry, and many of its villagers still live in cave dwellings, some of which have been converted into pensions. Surrounding the area are the amazing rock formations known evocatively as Peri Bacalari or ‘Fairy Chimneys’. For panoramic views over the scenery of the Göreme Valley, visit the citadel of Üçhisar, the huge rock tower, which is the highest point in the area. Üçhisar and Ürgüp are two of the most popular vacation places to stay in the area, where in recent years, a number of chic boutique hotels have opened in the old buildings and rock dwellings.
Located to the west of Nigdee, the Ihlara Vadisi gorge is 10 km long and some 80 metres wide. Popular for trekking it is home to over 60 churches, the majority of which were built in the 11th century. There are hundreds of underground cities in the regions. Two of the most impressive are Kaymakli, which has 8 levels, and Derinkuyu, which reaches down to 55 metres. They were used by the Christians fleeing persecution in the 7th century, who created a self-sufficient environment, underground, including bedrooms, kitchens and storage rooms.