Centre of Cappadocia: Ürgüp
In October 2013, we returned to Cappadocia, this time staying in Ürgüp, one of the larger towns in Cappadocia. Ürgüp is very picturesque, with cave hotels dotted around the hills leading into town, making it a great example of the fascinating and unique character of the region.
There is also lots of shopping, not just tourist shops but also a number of supermarkets. Our favorite supermarket for price was Bim, it is popular all over Turkey and there are two in Ürgüp. There is also an active nightlife for the young and restless. It is also great place to stay if you want to travel around the other towns in the region; with a bus depot with regular trips to other popular tourist sites.
TripAdvisor states that Ürgüp is Cappadocia region’s most upscale and contemporary tourist destination, that it “has a number of lovely hotels, many built in and around centuries-old cave dwellings. The city and its surrounding area are known for their mysterious fairy chimneys, early Christian rock churches and fine vineyards. A mix of ancient and modern, Urgup is a center for traditional handmade carpets, but also has a lively nightlife. Hot air ballooning is very popular, and a fantastic way to see the area’s beauty from above.”
On this trip, we were fortunate that a friend organised some accommodation for us at the Otel Mustafa. The tariff included both breakfast and dinner, which meant we did not have to worry about meals while we were there. It is not a cave hotel, and if it is your first time in Cappadocia, I recommend you stay in a cave hotel for at least one night. This hotel suited us though, we enjoyed the walk into town (about 15 minutes) and the room was large and comfortable. The foyer and dining room are opulent, with a very Turkish sense of interior design, plenty of marble, rich colours, furnishings with luxuriant textures, sumptuous patterning and plenty of gold leaf. There was also a gift shop with lots of typical Turkish arts and crafts, jewellery and stained glass lamps. The prices in the shop though are very typical of large hotels in Turkey – about three times what you will pay in the local shops and markets.
We have some favorite places in Ürgüp that we like to hang out. Firstly, we love Sultan Mehmet’s shop, and mentioned it on our first trip in 2011 when we did an artist residency at Babayan Culture House. One of the owners Sule, speaks very good English and she is very helpful about where to find things in town. Her shop has everything from antiques, carpets, to jewellery and framed artworks. Her husband Mehmet speaks French, which must be useful for the many French tourists who travel to Cappadocia.
If you are into the Turkish bathing culture, there is a hamam in Ürgüp, it is mixed men and women’s bath, with the exception of Saturday morning when it is women’s only. If you prefer a hamam with separate baths, then I recommend going to Göreme. It is a bit more expensive but well set up for tourists, has a sauna and a nice recovery area. When you tip the women, you tip all of them; conversely the men tip their masseuse individually. This is done by putting your tips in a little post box in the foyer of the hamam. It is recommended to tip at a hamam – 10 or 20 percent.
This is a great place to go, if you want to get an idea of the rich and diverse cultural history of Cappadocia. The museum was opened in 1971, and displays specimens from Prehistorical, Ancient Bronze Age, Hittite, Frig, Persia, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantium and Ottoman ages. There are also period pieces of art from areas surrounding Ürgüp as well as fossil samples and an ethnographic section for regional clothes, furniture and guns at the museum.
Earlier, I mentioned that Ürgüp has a bus depot that can take you to the other villages and centres in the region. Buses run every 1/2 hour to Nevsehir, every 2 hours to Avanos and Göreme and every hour to Kayseri. This article has lots of timetables from Cappadocia to everywhere.