Travelogue: Cappadocia on horseback

Here is my diary of the horseback trip in Cappadocia

This is my story about the horseback trip to Cappadocia. “There is no land like the world”. It is the most frequent comment of travelers of all ages once they know Cappadocia . In the geographical heart of today’s Turkey , this region boasts absolutely original fabulous landscapes and human settlements. A fairytale place, full of surprises.

A horseback ride in Cappadocia outside the usual tourist destinations

Among the vagaries of nature and a thousand-year history, we will ride an itinerary outside the usual tourist destinations, to learn about what really makes the land of King Midas an almost unique tourist destination . Cappadocia surprises us from the very first contact. In the equestrian center of departure, the premises are located inside curious natural formations; they would not seem inhabited at all if you see them from the outside. But the stables, the service rooms and even the owners’ house are caves. Even the beautiful stable is situated in the centre, where a young local sculptor has created the trunk of a tree that extends the sinuous branches on the vault and on the walls. A real work of art; an announcement of the sweet beauty of which this land is capable.

Viaggio a cavallo Cappadocia Horseback riding Cappadocia [/ caption]

It’s time to get on the saddle!

But it’s time to get on the saddle ; a total immersion in the landscapes and history of the surrounding area awaits us.  We are located in the Nevsheir province; the countryside of Mustafàpashà, a two thousand people center originating from a Greek colony with the ancient name of Sinasos. Experience the magic of Cappadocia yourself! Follow the link to discover our organized horse riding trip! You can immediately admire the  landscape. Wind, ice and rain have eroted the soft local rock and have drawn the bizarre shapes that surround us from the very first steps over the millennia. The water has carved the very narrow valleys that we travel through; constantly with the nose up. We absorb every news of our guide Hélèn, we enjoy every change of the landscape and we move at the same time without great effort and in a natural way. Today, we proceed with the right slowness on the saddle, but fast enough to cover the twenty-five kilometers. Much of the history of this land is related to horses. The Greeks and Romans read about the beauty of the women and equine breeds of Cappadocia. The name of the Katpadukya region itself comes from the ancient Persian with the meaning of “Land of beautiful horses” .

Finally the underground city of Gomeda, a troglodyte village

And finally, today’s first destination appears to us, the main product of the long history of this land: an underground city. The geographical position of the region, in the center of Anatolia , between Asia Minor and Mesopotamia, has made Cappadocia a crossroads of trade routes but also the subject of repeated invasions from which the local population had to protect themselves for millennia. And here the is the troglodyte village of Gomeda hidden in a canyon, dug out of the very bowels of the earth. We leave the horses to visit the place, not yet disturbed by the noise of international tourism. It is very likely that the first cave houses were built in prehistoric times by archaic populations of Anatolia. In fact, the exact epoch of origin of this unique way of living is still not clear to archaeologists. The ease of excavating the soft local rock has determined the fortune of this type of settlement. Inside the tuff, the temperature is mild and constant both in summer and in winter. Ingenious ventilation systems are still able to convey the air up to ten superimposed levels and over a hundred meters deep; wells, cisterns or sometimes underground streams once guaranteed the supply of water. Large disc-shaped boulders, maneuverable only from the inside, closed the entrances to houses and settlements while secret escape routes ensured the safety of the inhabitants against the violent incursions of the enemies. Only in the province of Nevsehir there are dozens of underground settlements such as Gomenda in the open countryside. Legends say about kilometer-long tunnels that connected the rocky villages to each other. An underground world that contributes to making Cappadocia a unique charmed land.

A long ride in freedom

It is time to leave. A long ride makes us find the pleasure of open spaces in the incredible surrounding landscape. This is also the pleasure of traveling on horseback: to experience the sense of freedom . We therefore rely on the perfect physical shape of the oriental horses typical of this region of Anatolia and fly with them. Equestrian tourism is the most suitable way to easily reach the most distant places and not to miss anything we have to see or to know about the territory we are crossing. Other interesting stops are possible in the following kilometers.

Ortahisar and its incredible fortress

We are interested in the final destination of this day: the town of Ortahisar and its incredible fortress obtained from a colossal spur of tuff. Once you reach its door, your eyes fill up with wonder oce again. Ortahisar is an incredible agglomeration of life where civilizations have overlapped but never left the place from prehistoric times to today. The houses built without interruption have been added to the cave houses during the last century. It is too easy to compare with Matera from a few decades back. Tourism is now slowly starting to cause changes in the use of the rock settlement also here. The artificial caves are still houses, cellars, stables, workshops and even churches, but they become more and more small restaurants or hotels in a mix of eras which are difficult to describe. We climb up to the fortress to which the town owes its name. In fact, “Castello di Mezzo” is the meaning of the name of Ortahisar , only here the castle is not built, but is a great tuff rock modeled by man . At the entrance, the guardhouse is a huge cave where shelters for horses have also been made. A labyrinth of corridors and external stairways, originally made of wood, make Ortahisar Castle a perfect example of a fortress. Today it is a tourist attraction where small reception activities mix with the daily actions of the inhabitants.

Goreme and the fairy chimneys

The surrounding landscape is spectacular to say the least. At nightfall, we look west towards Goreme and we think about what awaits us in the morning. The horses rest, but the journey is not really over yet. It’s dawn. Strange forms take shape early on the morning. Sudden flames light up the darkness that soon leaves Goreme. Soon, the surreal atmosphere gives way to the sequences of a daydream. Dozens and dozens of colored spheres rise up on the famous “Fairy Chimneys” that slowly build a scene beyond all imagination. One of the surprises that this land blessed by nature can give to travelers. From the top of these “Flying Dreams” the enchanted valleys of Cappadocia are announced: the destination of our next trip. Another beauty to discover, other wonders to gaze at in the Land of the Beautiful Horses . This is our horseback riding trip to Cappadocia! To learn more about Cappadocia read the related Wikipedia entry.

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