Göreme National Park is located in the central part of Turkey, which is a volcanic region of the country that includes Mount Erciyes and Mount Hasan. The national park boundaries encompass an area of 39 square miles (100 sq km).
Neither Mount Hasan, with a peak at 10,673 feet (3,253 m) nor Mount Erciyes with a peak of 12,851 feet (3,917 m) are in the park boundaries, however, they can be seen when visiting the park. Both are picturesque mountain volcanoes that enhance the intriguing landscape of the region.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site was created in plateaus and big hills that have been eroded by rivers and wind. These plateaus and hills are comprised of basalt and combined with volcanic ash from historical eruptions of the volcanoes. The heart of the national park is the intersecting underground settlements that were built into the rocky landscapes. These settlements and surrounding rocky terrain have experienced an abundance of erosion.
The erosion has left behind stunning hoodoo rock formations that include fairy chimneys, pillars, rock towers, and tent rocks. The softer layers of these rock formations made it easy for dwellings to be dug into the hills.
This historical Turkish cultural feature is a highlight of the park. The imagination that resulted in this complex system of underground system of storehouses, religious worship sites, stables for animals, and living quarters is mesmerizing.
The tunnels and underground connections reveal an 8-story deep city system amongst these hoodoo rock formations that is incredible. Parts of the area still contain homes of locals wherase other parts have been turned into hotel space for visitors. As you discover and explore Goreme, you will return to ancient times while envisioning the lives of those who discovered this unique haven.
The landscape with the various pillars, rock towers, and other hoodoo rock formations is the highlight of a visit to Göreme National Park. However, one of the more intriguing aspects is how mankind in years past dug into and beneath these rock formations to create a community amongst these picturesque pillar landscapes.
Göreme Valley is characterized by steep slopes surrounding the valley. The hoodoo, rock towers, and other eroded rock formations are located within the valley area. The valley is also home to Bezirhane, Durmus, Kadir, Ortahane, and Yusuf Koc which are all historically significant churches in the area. These structures, along with the striking eroded landscape, and other local facets are all part of the larger Göreme culture.
Ancient Goreme National Park Trails
Seeing the hoodoos, rock towers, and the underground settlements are at the heart of the Göreme National Park experience. There are at least eight different trails that make meandering through the Göreme valley truly memorable. The trails range from easy to moderate while providing excellent opportunities to discover and explore the landscape and historical significance of the area.
Zemi Valley Trail
This is a 2-mile (3.21 km) loop trail navigates through the rock formations and cultural sites of the park. There are amazing picturesque landscapes that really let you capture the are through this easy rated hike.
This is a longer 8.6-mile (13.8 km) loop trail that features an elevation gain of 1,643 feet (500.79 m) while navigating up into and around the rock towers, hills, and rock formations of the national park. The terrain is more rugged and results in a moderate rating. It provides striking views of this renowned cultural and picturesque landscape settlement.
Rose and Red Valleys Trail
This is a moderate rated loop trail circling a distance of 4.8 miles (7.72 km). There is an elevation change of 846 feet (257.86 m) while making the trek through the valleys. This trail really highlights the rock formations and sandstone eroded landscape. There are cave and historical sites as part of the excursion as well as the chance to see wildflowers.
Cappadocia Sunrise and Sunset Spots
This trail takes a larger commitment. The moderate rated trail ascends 2,598 feet (791.87 m) over a distance of 13.7 miles (22.04 km). There are scenic views of the landscape along the way, but the highlight is the panoramic view that awaits those who make the ascent to the top of the vista. Being here for sunrise or sunset requires careful planning.
Göreme National Park was created by the Turkish government to celebrate and protect the historical and unique landscapes of the Göreme Valley. These hoodoo rock towers and structures found throughout the rock formations is one of the most unique places in the world. The area also earned UNESCO World Heritage status because of the cultural and historical significance.
Ancient Goreme Highlights
- Göreme Valley
- Göreme culture
- The hoodoo landscape and unique rock formations
- All Trails, Best Trails in Goreme National Park, https://www.alltrails.com/parks/turkey/nevsehir/goreme-national-park, retrieved July 2020.
- Britannica, Goreme National Park, https://www.britannica.com/place/Goreme-National-Park, retrieved August 2019.
- Ministry of Culture, Nevsehir – Goreme National Park, https://www.ktb.gov.tr/EN-99801/nevsehir---goreme-national-park.html, retrieved August 2019.
- National Geographic, Escape to Turkey’s otherworldly landscape, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/world-heritage/cappadocia/ retrieved August 2019.
- Turkish Culture, Gorme National Park and Cappadocia, http://www.turkishculture.org/general/unesco-world-heritage/goreme-national-park-1039.htm, retrieved August 2019.
- UNESCO Goreme National Park and the Rock Site of Cappadocia, https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/357/, retrieved August 2019.