Cappadocia is well known for its unique desert landscape and cave dwellings, known as fairy chimneys, which used to be homes many centuries ago.
The finest example of a historic cave home is the Uchisar Castle. This beautiful and historic castle is located in the town of Uçhisar, in the Goreme Province of Cappadocia, Turkey.
The castle is built on a hilltop overlooking the town and the surrounding desert landscape and is the highest point in Cappadocia. Many people visit the castle not just for its history but for its panoramic views of the region, which on a clear day, shows Mount Erciyes in the distance.
In this guide, we will be covering everything you need to know about this important landmark in Turkey, from its history, to how to get there, to some advice you might want to consider before visiting.
Planning a trip to Cappadocia last-minute?
Make sure you book your tours, places to stay, and airport transfers ahead of time to ensure availability!
Here is our recommended airport transfer in Cappadocia:
- Airport Shuttle From Nevsehir Airport (NAV) or Kayseri Airport (ASR) (Super affordable!)
Here are our recommended tours in Cappadocia:
- Hot Air Balloon Flight In Cappadocia At Sunrise (A must-do In Cappadocia)
- ATV Tours At Sunset
- Green Tour In Cappadocia (Perfect for those not renting a car!)
Here are our recommended places to stay in Cappadocia:
History of Uchisar Castle
It is thought that the castle was the main point of defense in the region of Cappadocia. It’s unclear when it was built since it was made by hollowing out natural caves in the rock into adjoining rooms.
However, it was first mentioned in the chronicle by Aziz ibn Ardasir, which was written in the 14th century when Turkey was under Ottoman control.
Although, people have been living in the area as far back as the 7th to 8th century, as people had fled to the region to escape from the Islamic rule in underground cities around Cappadocia, so it’s possible that the castle was formed even earlier than the 14th century.
When we visited Uchisar Castle, we were hoping to learn more history about the castle, but there were no signs nor guided tours, so it appears little is known about the castle’s history.
How was Uchisar Castle Made?
The rock in Cappadocia is very soft volcanic tuff, which is very easy to work with and shape. As such, many of the fairy chimneys and Uchisar Castle were made by hollowing out structures that were already part of the natural landscape.
Uchisar Castle is a large cylindrical mound of volcanic tuff on top of a hill and is surrounded by several other cave structures which now contain hotels and restaurants in the town of Uchisar. In the Byzantine era, they would have been homes for soldiers.
The caves were tunneled out to create multi-level rooms and underground passageways. Many of these passageways have been damaged due to aging and weathering, but there are still a few that remain on the Northern side of the castle that is in good enough condition to be visited by tourists.
It is believed that in its prime, the castle had 1,000 people living in it.
How to Get to Uchisar Castle?
Since most visitors to Cappadocia base themselves in Goreme, you’ll want to make your way here first.
There is a bus that leaves every 30 minutes from Goreme town center to Nevsehir. This bus stops by Uchisar village, and you must tell the driver you want to get off. Once you get off at Uchisar Village, the castle is only a short walk away.
If you are traveling by car (or renting a car in Cappadocia), you’ll want to drive down Adnan Menderes Cd from the town center of Goreme. This will take you straight to the town of Uchisar in 5 minutes. From there, you’ll be able to park your car on the road and walk up to the castle.
We recommend parking your car just off the main road past Uchisar Ranch as some of the roads in Uchisar are very narrow and windy, and have very few places to park.
Don’t Miss Out on the BEST Experience in Cappadocia!
No trip to Cappadocia is complete without taking an epic hot air balloon ride at sunrise!
Make sure you reserve your tour well in advance to avoid missing out or paying any additional fees last minute!
Another popular way to visit the castle is to hike. Hiking in Cappadocia is one of the best ways to see all of the landscape of Goreme National Park and the unique cave dwellings that are located here.
Hiking to Uchisar Castle is one of our favorite hikes in the region. If you are staying in Goreme, the historic center and the best place to stay in Cappadocia, then the hike to Uchisar Castle through the Pigeon Valley only takes about 1 hour.
Along the way, you’ll pass through epic landscapes and famous dovecotes – small shelters for pigeons and one of the most iconic features of Cappadocia.
From Goreme, the White Valley and Love Valley hike also takes you from the town of Goreme all the way to Uchisar Castle. The hike takes about 2 to 2.5 hours, and is mostly flat as you hike between the valley, though you’ll need to hike up the hill to the castle.
By Guided Tour
There are a couple of tours that make a stop via Uchisar Castle and this is the red tour and the blue tour. We recommend the red tour over the blue tour because it covers more of the popular attractions in Cappadocia.
Uchisar Castle Opening Hours & Entrance Fee
Uchisar Castle is open from 5 AM – 9 PM daily in the summer months. In the winter months, it is open from 5 AM to 7 PM. Opening hours may also vary on religious holidays.
The entrance fee for Uchisar Castle is 250 Turkish Liras. However, keep in mind that the economic situation in Turkey is not stable, so your price may differ.
Other things to do in Uchisar
Uchisar Castle is impressive, but full disclosure, it doesn’t take that long to see. We recommend spending an hour or so at the castle, admiring the rock formations and the expansive views.
But while you’re in Uchisar, there are some other Cappadocia attractions nearby that make the trip here worthwhile.
White Valley, Love Valley, and Pigeon Valley Hikes
One of the top things to do in Uchisar is to go hiking. There are three valleys nearby, the Pigeon Valley, White Valley and Love Valley, which take you towards Goreme.
White Valley connects to Love Valley, and since there is no marker stating where one ends and another begins, they are often seen as the same hike.
Eat at One of The Best Cave Restaurants In Cappadocia
There are many fantastic restaurants in Cappadocia. One of the best and most well-known is Zen Hotel and Cafe. It’s a small, family-owned restaurant serving classic Turkish food. If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, this is the place to go.
Visit the Underground City of Kaymakli
As I mentioned earlier, during the Byzantine era in the 7th and 8th centuries, the Christians built underground cities to escape Byzantine rule.
One of the best preserved underground cities in the region is the Kaymakli Underground City which is about 19km long (though tourists can only see a small fraction of this). The underground city is a 25-minute drive from Uchisar Castle.
Currently, the city has about 4 floors that have been excavated for tourists to see. It was said these underground cities held tens of thousands of citizens.
Tips for Visiting Uchisar Castle
Although Uchisar Castle is impressive, there are some tips you should consider before visiting.
- First, it’s important to know that the castle is made from soft rock, and it can be slippery in places, especially on the steps. If you plan to explore the caves and formations, do take care and don’t let children run about, as it’s very easy to fall in places.
- You should wear hard-wearing shoes, not sandals or trainers without a grip. As we mentioned, the ground is slippery in places, so make sure your shoes have plenty of grip.
- Although the summer is one of the best times to visit Cappadocia, it can be very hot. Make sure you bring plenty of water with you. There is little to no shade at Uchisar Castle
- It’s a popular attraction and is usually always crowded, especially at the top where there isn’t a lot of room to walk around in. Be courteous of other visitors and don’t rush to take photos, it’s not worth the risk. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit early in the morning.
- The castle is not wheelchair-friendly or suitable for those with strollers or reduced mobility.
Is Uchisar Castle Worth Visiting?
As one of the highest points in Cappadocia, Uchisar Castle is most definitely worth visiting. Not only can visitors admire the views of the surrounding region, but the unique formation and rich history of it make it one of the best places to visit in Cappadocia. Simply said, no visit to Cappadocia is complete without a stop at Uchisar Castle
FAQs About Uchisar Castle
Here’s what people usually ask us about Uchisar Castle…
Is it Better to Stay in Goreme or Uchisar?
While there are pros and cons to staying in Goreme vs Uchisar, Goreme is generally the better place to stay. It is much more accessible to Cappadocia’s top attractions and plenty of infrastructure of tourists, such as tour companies, restaurants, and more.
How Old is Uchisar?
Records date Uchisar Castle back to the 14th century, but it’s possible that settlers have lived in the region since the 7th to 8th century.
Who Conquered Uchisar?
During the history of Uchisar, it has been conquered by various empires over time. The Byzantines conquered Uchisar in the 11th to 12th century, and the Ottomans took control of it in the 13th century.
What Tours in Cappadocia go to Uchisar?
There are many tours in Cappadocia that visit Uchisar Castle. The most famous ones are the red tour and the blue tour.
Before You Go to Uchisar Castle
All in all, Uchisar Castle is an impressive place to visit, with lots of cool rock formations and caves to explore. We had a great time climbing over the rocks and taking photos of the cave dwellings.
Just make sure you take the tips we’ve provided into account before visiting so that you have a successful and safe visit.
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