Official language: Turkish
Time zone: UTC +3
Currency: Turkish lira (TRY)
Does that name ring a bell? Döner Kümbet is a Seljuq tomb whose dome looks like rotating about its center – identical to döner kebab meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie.
An hour west of the city, you’ll find the park with 350 rock-hewn sanctuaries from the Byzantine times. The oldest frescoes originated in the 9th century. The valley was discovered in 1907.
The extinct volcano Mount Ereiyes, reaching an elevation of 4,000 meters and surrounded by lava domes, is a destination for both trekking enthusiasts and advanced mountaineers. During winter months it operates as a ski resort.
Right in the middle of Turkey, at the foot of Mount Erciyes, lies the city of Kayseri. It was initially known as Mazaca and then renamed in 17 AC Caesarea in Cappadocia in honor of Caesar Tiberius.
Many türbes – traditional Seljuq mausoleums – have been preserved in the area of Kayseri. Among the most famous is Hasbek Kümbeti, which dates back to 1186, and the nearby 14th-century mosque, Hasbek Kümbet Camii. The building is quite unique as it doesn’t resemble the typical mosque with minarets. This one, instead, draws parallels with Romanesque Architecture – has a rectangular ground plan and a flat roof, and was built with stone blocks. And looks pretty unusual being surrounded by modern apartment houses.
When you’re visiting Kayseri, take a trip to any of the underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. They were used by early Christians to hide from their Roman and Muslims enemies. In Derinkuyu, there’re several well-maintained rock-cut rooms, e.g., stables, cellars, wineries, refectories, and even churches. Kaymakli city consists of 8 underground levels (4 are open to the public).
If you want to buy some souvenirs, go to the Grand Bazaar situated not far from the Great Mosque. It’s hard to believe that this market district is almost 800 years old! Covered by the roof, this maze of lanes and stalls is not just a tourist attraction, but a regular marketplace visited every day by the locals. As a result, not only can you get anything you want but also you’ll be happy to pay non-tourist prices. Bring home some pastirma (air-dried beef), the famous product of the city.
Looking for Turkish food at its best? So, you shouldn’t miss Elmacioglu Iskender on Cumhuriyet Mahallesi. You may find out here what the real kebab tastes like and how delicious halal food can be. We also recommend local delicacies – especially kaymak has no equal in Kayseri!