A business trip to western Turkey seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit an area I’ve always wanted to see: Cappadocia. It’s a region in central Turkey known for bizarre landscapes where millennia of rain, snow, and wind have worn the region’s soft orangish rock down, creating an array of “fairy chimneys” and other novel geological formations. That same soft stone has enabled people for over a thousand years to develop a labyrinth of cave homes, churches, and even complete underground cities (some going eight stories deep beneath the earth’s surface). These hidden villages and places of worship protected the Christians who inhabited the region for centuries. You can still visit some of the elaborately-painted cave churches and observe how people created a way of life inside the rocky landscape.
The only thing that seemed less than optimal about this opportunity to visit Cappadocia was the timing: my meetings were in January. No biggie, I thought. So, it’s a bit cold. How bad can that be?
My flight to Kayseri (the largest city in the region) from Istanbul got turned back halfway due to a snowstorm. When I finally arrived, snow blanketed many areas. Then, the next day, another snowstorm hit. As a result, all of the hot air balloons you usually see in images of Cappadocia were grounded. The underground cities that lie further afield were inaccessible due to closed roads. Even the fairy chimneys and other formations I’d hoped to see and photograph lay coated in white. Most of my expectations for the place were crushed. Which, as is often the case, ironically makes for the optimal trip.
As surprising as it may seem, the snow and cold made Cappadocia in winter one of the best times to visit the area. Here’s why.