Central Anatolia: Places to Explore



Kayseri is an old, socially conservative city famous for its Seljuk mosques, an imposing 6th-century citadel, and carpets. The city is now experiencing an industrial boom, which many believe is largely financed by companies with conservative Islamist roots. Hundreds of factories have been constructed here in recent years, and ambitious city plans imply that at least someone believes the boom will continue.

Most visitors these days will see Kayseri only because it has the largest airport serving the Cappadocia region. There's a tourism office in the main square across from the citadel, near the Hunat Hatun Cami, but it may or may not be open when you go. If you have a car and an hour or two to spare, take a whirl through the center of town; check out the citadel, the mosques, and the impressive main square; then hit the road again.

Mt. Erciyes, at 12,922 feet and 26 km (16 mi) south of Kayseri, is the tallest peak in central Anatolia. It's one of three volcanoes whose enormous eruptions over a period of some 10 million years covered Cappadocia with lava and ash, the raw material that eventually gave rise to the region's surreal moonscape. Today, the peak that overlooks Kayseri is covered with snow even at the hottest time of the year. The hour-long drive west out of Kayseri to the villages of central Cappadocia passes through an unattractive landscape that looks something like an abandoned construction site. Hints of more interesting landscapes begin to appear as you approach Ürgüp, when the landscape starts to explode into a surreal valley of giant phallus-like protrusions.

Kayseri at a Glance