15 otherworldly photos of one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey

The unique activities travelers can enjoy there

An area marked by stark, open plains
One of the most interesting tourist destinations in Turkey lies in central Anatolia, in an area marked by stark, open plains. This destination, Cappadocia, is an oddity — with incredible rock houses carved by humans, staggering volcanic fairy chimneys that stand up to 130 feet tall, and entire underground cities, the region attracts thousands of tourists each year.

It has been known as Cappadocia since ancient times, though today it is also informally known as Kapadokya. It has been an officially designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

However, the US Department of State recently issued a travel warning advising Americans not to visit Turkey, due to the war in Syria and recent terrorist attacks. Getty photographer Chris McGrath recently visited Cappadocia and talked with local vendors who still expect tourist numbers to be stable due to the unique activities travelers can enjoy there. Below, see McGrath's beautiful images of the popular tourist destination of Cappadocia.

Cappadocia is known for its interesting volcanic landscape, its sections of underground cities, and its hot air balloons.

Hot air balloon rides are the most popular activity enjoyed by tourists. The balloon tours begin at sunrise and last for an hour. They cost $95, and tourists can enjoy a glass of champagne at the end of the ride.

The hot air balloon rides are some of the best in the world, and they go over parts of the region known for the popular rock formations known as fairy chimneys.

The fairy chimneys are the result of ancient volcanic eruptions. Some of the formations stand as high as 130 feet.

About 38 million tourists visit Turkey annually.

In 2013, the number of tourists in the Cappadocia region alone reached one million.

One of the more interesting features of Cappadocia is its underground cities.

The first inhabitants of Cappadocia created deep rooms within the volcanic rocks to escape the attacks of wild animals and harsh winter conditions. They enlarged the areas to meet their daily needs, and over time they created tunnels that connected them.

There are known to be about 40 underground cities, but only six of them are open for visitors.

Thousands of years ago, Cappadocia was inhabited by Christians who carved thousands of churches, chapels, and monasteries out of rock. These ancient churches still stand to this day.

There are many different souvenir shops around Cappadocia.

They sell handmade mementos like hot air balloon ornaments.

Other tourist destinations in Turkey, such as Antalya, are more popular with Russian tourists, whereas Cappadocia caters to the Asian tourist market.

Still, people from all over the world are known to visit.

Cappadocia is beloved as a miraculous natural wonder.


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