Uçhisar and the Valley of the Pigeons

As beautiful on a hike as it is in a hot-air balloon, the city of Uçhisar is a half-natural, half-artificial wonder. Situated on the highest point in the region of Cappadocia, in the heart of Turkey, the whole of this troglodyte town is dominated by the immense Castle of Uçhisar, carved out of Kale, a rock visible for miles around. But one of the most beautiful sites of interest in Cappadocia is also one of the most desolate, the last inhabitants having left the caves in the mid-1950s because of increasingly threatening erosion.

This Cappadocian municipality is therefore an essential stop-off point for anyone looking for "unusual and atypical places" in Cappadocia. It is also one of the main gateways to the Pigeon Valley, one of the longest and widest valleys in the region. As its name suggests, this valley is characterised by the presence of hundreds of dovecotes carved into the rock.

View of Uçhisar Castle, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © Jarrod Ryan Jooste / Shutterstock

Discover Uçhisar and its castle

Situated 4.5 kilometres south-west of Göreme, the village of Uçhisar is famous for being built into a mountain over 130 metres high, and for its stone castle. Dating back to Hittite times, Uçhisar Castle is both a geological and architectural marvel. The volcanic peak (Kale) has been hollowed out many times over the past 3,500 years. It now houses a labyrinth of tunnels that lead to the fortress, which was once home to thousands of people fleeing invasions.

View of the village of Uçhisar and its castle, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © iacomino FRiMAGES / Shutterstock

Uçhisar Castle contains a multitude of churches, monasteries, common rooms, storerooms and other rooms used in the life of the period. All these rooms are linked by a vast network of galleries. These galleries stretch for dozens of kilometres and are 20 storeys high, reminiscent of the troglodyte villages of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli.

Uçhisar Castle in Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © Lenar Musin / Shutterstock

Flying over Uçhisar in a hot-air balloon

The village of Uçhisar offers an even greater spectacle for travellers who dare to fly over it. When it comes to booking a balloon flight, you're spoilt for choice! Dozens of options are available all year round, departing from Göreme or directly from Uçhisar. Most offers also include a flight over the Göreme National Park and the Amur Valley, with its famous fairy chimneys.

Hot-air balloons over the village of Uçhisar, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © Kochneva Tetyana / Shutterstock

Hiking in the Pigeon Valley

Nestling between the municipalities of Uçhisar and Göreme, the Valley of the Pigeons attracts visitors from all over the world. And with good reason: this unique valley is famous for the hundreds of dovecotes carved out of the rock. These were built at the end of the 19th century and are still used today to breed these grey birds. A real tradition in the country, where the price of a pigeon can be in excess of 350 euros!

Valley of the Pigeons in the Cappadocia region of Turkey

- © fokke baarssen / Shutterstock

Contrary to popular belief, the pigeons bred in the Vallée des Pigeons are not intended for consumption. Historically, these pigeons were used as carrier pigeons and for farming (the droppings were used as fertiliser in the surrounding vineyards ). Nowadays, many pigeon breeders do this out of passion, for the beauty of the animal. Several breeds and colours of pigeon are bred, and competitions are held regularly to reward the most beautiful specimens.

Pigeon sitting on a panel above the Valley of the Pigeons, in the Cappadocia region of Turkey

- © Thomas Wyness / Shutterstock

As well as its unusual character, the Vallée des Pigeons offers some great walking opportunities. Allow around 2 to 3 hours' walking to get the most out of the area. Although entry to the valley is completely free, paying for the services of a local guide will enable you to find the best viewpoints and learn more about the pigeon lofts of Cappadocia.

View of the Pigeon Valley in Cappadocia, with the village of Uçhisar in the background

- © Hafizzuddin / Shutterstock

What can you take away from your visit to Uçhisar?

Most of the souvenirs to bring back from Cappadocia are pretty much the same throughout the region: silver jewellery, leather goods, local produce... However, it's worth remembering that the village of Uçhisar has several pottery workshops. Visit one of the small craftsmen's shops to buy hand-painted ceramic plates, vases and dishes, and you'll have something to decorate your home with as a souvenir of your trip.

Store selling ceramic dishes in the village of Uçhisar

- © Arseniy Bobrov / Shutterstock

⭐ Where to stay in the village of Uçhisar?

A popular tourist destination, the village of Uçhisar is full ofhotels and guesthouses in which to stay. Whether you're looking for a room with a view, a traditional troglodyte dwelling or a flat equipped for all the family, you're bound to find something to suit you among the multitude of establishments located in the town. Our favourite? Theeco-responsible Hu of Cappadocia hotel, with its traditional decor and breathtaking view of the ballet of hot-air balloons.

Cappadocia

Hu of Cappadocia - Special Class

Hotel with panoramic views of Mount Erciyes
From
£138
Book
by Editorial Team
Need a hand? take a look at our guide
Cappadocia
Cappadocia
Latest news
Marrakech
The Majorelle Garden, an infinitely blue Eden
Milan
Milan Cathedral: the urban jewel of the city of Lombardy
Lyon
Get a bird's eye view of Lyon's Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica
Read more articles
Top destinations