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krisek Urgup - A travel report by Krys
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Urgup,  Turkey - flag Turkey -  Nev¶ehir
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krisek's travel reports

Cappadocian town with little charm. Ürgüp.

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Surrounded by valleys and mountains, with its own 'castle' and ruins of old settlement, Ürgüp still disappoints. It is largely a modern town with good facilities but it lacks character and cannot compete with Göremë.


The only fairy chimneys near Ürgüp, some 2km northwest from the town centre.
The only fairy chimneys near Ürgüp, some 2km northwest from the town centre.
Just 10 kilometres from Göremë, the heart of Cappadocia, Ürgüp appeared bleak and uninspiring. The contrast could not be greater. I was very disappointed. I am not sure what I was thinking. Travel literature suggested that Ürgüp was just an upper scale version of Göremë, with good quality dining and lodging. The thing was that Göremë had caught up considerably, excellent hotels had been built, great restaurants had sprung up, and there was nothing Ürgüp had that Göremë did not, when I visited. Except perhaps the hill with abandoned old town, right in the middle of the town, whilst visitors to Göremë had to hike either 3km to Uçhisar or 4km to Çavusin to see such a thing, and incidentally both were more dramatic that Ürgüp's.

The main bus station was located in the geographical centre of the town, in one of the two squares. The small tourist information office, one of the two (the main one was closed on Sundays) was based there, but thy were not very well informed. They even did not know where my hotel was. I had to show them the actual address. Funny thing that the hotel had been there for the last 20 years.

The old town and the 'castle' (this is what they call a hill with caves, once or still being occupied by the locals) were located at the northern end of the town.

But the town grew on me. How could I not be disappointed after spending three days in a fairy-tale village? I would be disappointed with myself if I had no felt disappointed with Ürgüp at the first sight. So, I recommend to come to Ürgüp first, and to Göremë last. As I said, I began liking Ürgüp after a while. It was clean, almost civilised, organised, compact, hilly and had many pavement and rooftop cafes and bars (so did Göremë, by the way). People were friendly and helpful, and places stayed open late. For example, the Joy pub (see Nightlife below) did not, apparently, close until 4am!

Favourite spots:
The castle of Ürgüp, seen from the view point.
The castle of Ürgüp, seen from the view point.
Hmm... a favourite spot in Ürgüp? Well, it would have to be the castle and the view that extended from the top of it. One could actually see quite far and the entire town was visible. Well, the part which was obscured by he cliff with abandoned caves was not, yet the ancient cliff with the old dwellings was a sight in its own right. So, there was nothing to complain.

There was a very basic cafe serving refreshments (no booze), crisps, coffees and gözlemes (flat Turkish bread filled with something). It had a collection of old photographs illustrating how Ürgüp had looked like decades ago.

What's really great:
Ürgüp fairy chimneys, about 2km from the centre of the town.
Ürgüp fairy chimneys, about 2km from the centre of the town.
Fortunately, there was also a spot with four fairy chimneys near Ürgüp. Three of them, leaning away from each other had become a symbol of the town, actually and many companies had adopted graphics based on the sight as their logos. The fourth one was a bit larger and thicker and stood slightly aside from the other three. The sight was was located along the main road leading from Ürgüp to Göremë, and a good half an hour uphills hike from the town. The chimneys, although much, much less spectacular than their many counterparts across Cappadocia had this strange magnetism about them. Perhaps the fact that they stood alone in the middle of otherwise non-dramatic valley made them appear extraordinary.

Sights:
The old town in Ürgüp, a group of abandoned cave apartments.
The old town in Ürgüp, a group of abandoned cave apartments.
The town did not have many sights on its own right. The so called old town full of abandoned caves, which once must have been households, was indeed extensive. It was spreading from the main square with the unmistakable clock tower far beyond the castle, a hill aslo with caves. The town, whose surface did not impress terribly, was nicely visible from the top of the castle. And the view also showed that there was little to see in the town.

The caves, many of which had been converted into funky and upper range hotels (far more comfortable and bearing many more stars than those establishments in Goreme), were in fact the key sights of Urgup. One could easily 'explore' them by asking to have a peek inside, even if only pretending to be showing interest in potentially considering a night at one of them.

However, it would normally be the nature as the reason to come to Urgup in the first place. The first interesting landscape was about 45 minutes hike from the town, and there was a lot more.

Accommodations:
Room #203 at the Cappadocia House Hotel.
Room #203 at the Cappadocia House Hotel.
Cappadocia House, unknown to the tourist information office, had twin rooms for €25, if booked online via a discounter, otherwise their advertised prices were TRY60 (€31) for a single, and TRY90 (€46.50) for a twin. It was well located just about 3 minutes walk from the main square, along one of the main avenues leading to and from the centre.

The hotel was clean, the rooms were spotless and the en-suite bathrooms well scrubbed. The rooms featured a dresser with a mirror, a balcony with no view, small TV with many satellite channels in many languages, a telephone, a small fridge and free wifi Internet was available in rooms as well. Bed linen was crisp and towels were white and clean. Toiletries were provided as well, and hot water was available 24h a day.

The personnel was not terribly well trained but they were polite and spoke some English. The hotel's only disaster was its breakfast. It was positively ghastly. I do not even want to think about it.

Nightlife:
Rooftop terrace of the Joy Open Air Pub.
Rooftop terrace of the Joy Open Air Pub.
Adonis Disco was one of the obvious night party venues, close to the upmarket hotels, but it was a bit too far from where I wanted to party. So, I did not go there. There was not much night action around in the middle of Ramadan, by the way. I realised that when I invaded the rooftop of Joy Open Air Pub in the heart of Ürgüp. I was the only customer for most part of the night, as the bartenders attended to their girlfriends stretching on beanbags or a swing-bench. It was a great spot, though. The view of the castle was great (a massive sign saying 'oruçtut shihhatbul' perched on top of it reminded everyone that it was Ramadan), the town clock tower changed its illumination from green to blue to purple to red to orange, and the bartender put lively Latin tunes, anything from Cuban to Brazilian to Capeverdian to Spanish, and included Latin interpretations of old rock and pop classics. I had a few nightcaps there, feeling gilty, and scoffed beef köfta, as a goodbye to the Turkish cuisine.

Hangouts:
The main piazza in Ürgüp with the town clock tower imitating a fairy chimney.
The main piazza in Ürgüp with the town clock tower imitating a fairy chimney.
Bahane Cafe, an open air venue at the main square by the city clock where Tevfik Fikret Cadesi street descended from the old town, was a popular place for tea, coffee or a refreshing drink (mainly from a can) at about half the normal price one would get a soft drink in the next door cafes and bars. The old town, the kids playing at the square's fountain and people dining opposite at the Cappadocia Restaurant or the Angel Cafe & Bistro or the Micro Restaurant could be watched there. All in addition to those, who on the opposite side of the square shopped spices and souvenirs.

There were a few other cafes nearby and one at the top of the castle, but this one was definitely amongst the most convenient and animated.

Restaurants:
Manti, a large ravioli-like dumpling filled with minced meat and herbs and served with garlic yogurt
Manti, a large ravioli-like dumpling filled with minced meat and herbs and served with garlic yogurt
Sömine Cafe & Restaurant was one of the somewhat pretentious restaurant with good size menu (not too long) and decent wine list including Turkish wines. Their special was lamb kebab cooked in a closed pastry, but they wanted TRY20 for it, which I thought was a bit too much. Their offered also Anatolian ravioli (manti) for TRY6-TRY8.50, Turkish pizzas (pide) for TRY4.50-TRY6.50, a few Turkish traditional dishes, mainly kebabs, köfte and such for about TRY14.50. I had a glass of Turkish red (TRY8), the manti and pide. The middle-aged waiters were attentive, polite and spoke English. The tables were spotless, cutlery and crockery were clean, napkins were made of fabric, but here were plenty of paper tissues on the table, too. Chairs were wide and comfortable.

This restaurant did not enjoy the best press, amidst the claims that its cleanliness was not necessarily up to scratch. But I have to vouch for it - when I visited, it was perfect and I would recommend the spot. Not the wine, though.

Other recommendations:
The Red Valley at sunset, about 5km from Ürgüp.
The Red Valley at sunset, about 5km from Ürgüp.
A number of tour agents organised trips to the nearby natural wonders, one of which was a sunset trip to the Red Valley, which I would definitely recommend. The prices for the tours out of Urgup were higher than those out of Goreme, but hey, Goreme was actually closer to the valleys.

Urgup was connected with the rest of Cappadocia by a number of regular small buses and vans. Larger coaches linked Urgup with the rest of the country with regular nighttime services to Ankara and Istanbul. Both were inexpensive but not very frequent, unfortunately.

The town used two nearby airports. One in Kayseri and the other in Nevsehir. The former was much larger with many more frequent connections, as well as a selection of direct international flights to London and other European hubs. Nevsehir was not too bad for connections with Istanbul.

Published on Sunday October 17th, 2010


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Sun, Oct 17 2010 - 02:49 PM rating by pesu

Well written (as always!), good info and pics.

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