The Valley of Love and the fairy chimneys

This is undoubtedly one of the most visited and photographed sites in Cappadocia: the famous Amur Valley is located between the villages of Uçhisar and Göreme, in central Turkey. It owes its name to the immense rock formations found there, often compared to giant male genitalia. More elegantly, these characteristic pillars are usually called "fairy chimneys" or, more occasionally, "coiffed damsels".

Although fairy chimneys can be found in several valleys in Cappadocia, the Valley of Love ("Love Valley", or "Aşıklar vadisi" in Turkish) is where their concentration is greatest there. These rocky shapes, which seem to emerge suddenly from the ground, offer visitors a breathtaking spectacle. They are often seen during a long hike, or from the air during a hot-air balloon flight.

The Amur Valley, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © art of line / Shutterstock

The history of fairy chimneys

The fairy chimneys of Cappadocia are large natural pillars formed in volcanic rock. The top is usually capped by another type of rock, which is more resistant to erosion. The combination of these two elements is what gives them their distinctive phallic shape.

Aerial view of the Amur Valley, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © Guzel Gashigullina / Shutterstock

So how did these fairy chimneys come about? In Turkey's Amur valley, these rock formations are of volcanic origin. The resistant basalt layer that forms the cap covered a more crumbly layer of debris from an earlier eruption (more than 10 million years ago). This softer, more fragile rock was shaped over the centuries by water infiltration and erosion. This is how the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia came into being. Some of them are now up to 40 metres high, and have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Fairy chimneys in the Amur Valley, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © Heracles Kritikos / Shutterstock

The legend of the fairy chimneys

Far from rational scientific explanations, the formation of the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia is also the subject of several legends. Passed down from generation to generation, these stories tell of an ancient time when men and fairies lived in perfect harmony in the valley. However, to preserve the blood of both species, intermarriage was forbidden. But one fine day, a man and a fairy fell in love. To prevent this union, the fairy queen turned all her fellow fairies into pigeons, leaving the fairy chimneys abandoned... Today, this story continues to fascinate young and old alike, adding a touch of poetry to this unique landscape.

The fairy chimneys of the Amur Valley are the source of many legends.

- © Nejdet Duzen / Shutterstock

How do I get to the Amur Valley?

The nearest town to the Amur Valley is Göreme, one of the most visited villages in Cappadocia. Göreme is the main gateway to the valley. There are a number of excursions on offer, accompanied by local guides, to enable you to appreciate the full richness of this unique place.

Göreme at sunset, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © givaga / Shutterstock

The easiest and quickest way to reach Göreme from Istanbul (400 km) or Ankara (300 km) is by domestic flight. However, for economic and ecological reasons, you can also choose to make the journey by bus or hire car, in which case you will need to be patient. The capital of Cappadocia, Kayseri, is** around 70 kilometres from Göreme**, and the journey by car will take just under an hour.

The Amur Valley, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © iacomino FRiMAGES / Shutterstock

Hot-air ballooning over the Amur Valley

To fully appreciate the beauty of the Amur Valley, we recommend you book a hot-air balloon flight. From the sky, this breathtaking landscape takes on a whole new dimension and invites you to daydream. As with guided tours, many local companies offer first flights in a hot-air balloon, departing from Göreme orAvanos, another nearby town.

Hot-air balloons over the Amur Valley in Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © proslgn / Shutterstock

When should you visit the Amur Valley?

As with the rest of Cappadocia, the best time to visit the Amur Valley is from May to September. It should be noted, however, that the summer months are the most popular with tourists. To avoid the hordes of tourists and to explore the site in complete tranquillity, it is therefore advisable to avoid the months of July and August. You'll also benefit from milder weather, with cooler temperatures (the sun beats down hard at the height of summer).

Hot-air balloon over the Amur Valley in Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock

Where to stay near the Amur Valley?

As we mentioned earlier in this article, the ideal place to discover the Amur Valley is Göreme**, the gateway to this natural site**. This tourist town is packed with accommodation to suit all types of traveller: hotels, hotel houses, troglodyte dwellings...

Cappadocia

Roc Of Cappadocia

An establishment with authentically decorated rooms
From
£126
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Located in the heart of Göreme, the Roc of Cappadocia hotel is surrounded by 7 fairy chimneys, as if in a cocoon: a marvel not to be missed, despite its slightly higher price than its competitors. On the eastern side of the town, a number of hotels also attract tourists thanks to their breathtaking views of the hot-air balloons. Our favourites include the Azur Cave Suites and the Elite Cave Suites, with their troglodyte rooms typical of the region.

by Editorial Team
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