Ortahisar Castle

Location: 

GPS coordinates: 38.620000, 34.864200
Ortahisar Castle
Ortahisar Castle

Description: 

The fortress, towering above the town of Ortahisar, is one of its biggest tourist attractions. It was opened to the public in 2013 after extensive renovations. While it is less well known than its famous counterpart from Üçhisar, the travellers who make an effort of climbing to the summit will be amply rewarded by the stunning views from the peak. The panorama of the valley of Hallacdere - the fairy chimneys valley, and the majestic, snow-capped volcano Erciyes, looming on the horizon, make the biggest impression on the visitors.

Brief history

The origins of the fortifications in Ortahisar are lost in the mists of history. Certainly there was a fortress here in the Byzantine period. Some researchers argue that it was erected on the foundations of an earlier building, from the Hittite period. In the Byzantine era, Cappadocia was guarded by three important fortresses. The first of them was Başkale (i.e. Main Castle) in Ürgüp, the second - Ortahisar (i.e. Middle Fortress), and the third - a castle in Üçhisar (i.e. Third Fortress).

The rock on which the fortress in Ortahisar was built is known as "the biggest fairy chimney in Cappadocia". In modern times, it has steadily eroded. In 2004, the fortress was closed to visitors because of the high risk of accidents. Shortly after that, the renovations began, to protect the structure from collapsing. Engineers conducted seismic studies and cracked walls were filled with special materials, designed to protect them from further erosion.

In 2013, the castle reopened for tourists who flocked to climb to its peak. In just 23 days, the stronghold was visited by four thousand people. Now that the novelty of this place on the tourist scene of Cappadocia has faded and the fortress is much less frequently visited. Most sightseeing tours go to Üçhisar Castle instead. That structure looks more spectacular from the outside and is technically somewhat easier to climb by people with the poorer physical condition.

Visitor tips: 

Ortahisar Castle is open daily, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. The admission ticket costs 5 TL.

To explore the fortress, you need to come well prepared, wear sturdy shoes to protect from slipping, and long trousers. Almost vertical ladders and narrow corridors lead to the top of the castle. At the peak, there are some chains, installed to protect from falling into the abyss, but watch out for each other, especially for the youngest travelers.

Getting there: 

With public transport: the castle stands in the centre of Ortahisar. There are regular minibuses from Nevşehir and Ürgüp to this town.

By car: Ortahisar is situated near D302 route from Nevşehir (15 km to the west) to Ürgüp (6 km to the east). In Ortahisar, there is a junction of this route with the road to Göreme (5 km to the north).

Image gallery: 

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