The industrial city of Kayseri (a 90-minute flight from Istanbul) is the gateway to the fascinating “fairy chimney” landscape of Cappadocia’s Göreme Valley. Drive west (with a guide) through this unique landscape of giant rock pillars, many capped by improbably balanced slabs of hard lava. Created by wind erosion, the weirdly shaped formations were converted into thousands of dwellings and secret cave churches by Christian hermits, who lived in the region for more than 1,500 years. The Göreme Valley is also well-known for its exceptional carpets and ceramics, especially the pottery from the village of Avanos, made with red silt from the nearby Kizilirmak river.

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