MNN Galleries

30 of the most beautiful places in the world

By: Melissa Breyer on July 8, 2014, 9:01 a.m.
Cappadocia, Turkey

Photo: ievgen sosnytskyi/Shutterstock

18 of 32

Cappadocia

It's possible that the only way you could improve upon the stunning spectacle of the “fairy chimney” pinnacles found in central Turkey's Cappadocia region is by enhancing the already surreal scene with some hot air balloons. But balloons or not, Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia — as the area is officially called — is a marvel. Located on the Central Anatolia plateau, the volcanic landscape has teamed up with the forces of erosion to create the ridges, valleys and towers that have provided a rich backdrop to a fascinating human history since at least the 4th century. Within many of the towering pinnacles are caves which house domestic dwellings and churches, many with intact frescoes; while below the ground are expansive subterranean cities — one which extends five levels down and once harbored 20,000 people. It is one of world's most striking and largest cave-dwelling complexes and offers impeccable examples of post-iconoclastic Byzantine art. Oh, and bonus points for being able to stay in a cool cave hotel if you visit.