After 9 years of renovation the Ortahisar Castle re-opened to the public in September 2013.

Ortahisar from parking lot

ORTASHISAR’S HISTORY

Ortahisar holy windowCappadocia’s volcanic history has left many crazy natural rock sculptures scattered around the region, but three, in particular, literally stand out from the rest. Uçhisar, Ortahisar, and Wish Hill in Ürgüp, formerly known as Başhisar.

These rock towers have apparently been used for defense purposes for 3000 years dating back to the Hittites.[1] This makes sense given the view of the surrounding region that they provide and their proximity to each other.

Ahmet, the cafe manager at the foot of the “castle”, told me that the tower was also used by the Lycians, the Romans/Byzantines, the Seljuks, and the Ottomans. Today, only tourists use the tower, but from the top the view of the small town of Ortahisar shows that people are still using the caves for homes, restaurants, and hotels.

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC: THE DETAILS

Unlike Uchisar which has been open for many years, Ortahisar has been closed to the public since 2004 when it was deemed unsafe. Over these last 9 years many experts from around the world have helped in the process of strengthening the walls, adding stairs and railing, and checking the integrity of the structure. They have done excellent work.
Ortahisar stairs

The stairs are quite steep. My 5-year-old made it without help but he had to work.

Ortahisar winehouse entranceWe highly recommend adding this site to your Cappadocia itinerary. Pay your 2TL per adult and climb the 180+ stairs to the top. Be sure to bring your camera.

Once you come back down enjoy a cup of tea at Ahmet’s cafe and/or enter the wine house and try some homemade and local wines. They advertise it as an Ottoman house, but in actuality it is just a few cave rooms that make for a comfortable place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine and a meal if the timing is right.

At the foot of the castle surrounding the parking area you will find an eclectic mix of shops selling the common trinkets and snacks as well as Ottoman antiques. The best men’s barber shop in Cappadocia, Kuaför Seyit, is another 100 meters away. If you are a guy, I highly recommend stopping in and getting a shave, surely one of the best experiences you can have in Cappadocia.

All in all you can expect to spend 45-60 minutes on the hisar as well as another half hour looking around the town (unless you want a shave which will take 30-45 minutes but is well worth it).


Ortahisar cafe

After you see the view at the top, stop for a cool or warm drink before heading back to your tour.

Ortahisar cliffs

The overview is magnificent. These ancient valley cave homes are crazy.

Ortahisar town

Be sure to bring your camera for the captivating panorama views.

OrtahisarA OrtahisarB

Be sure to let us know your impressions of Ortahisar. And if you have any photos worth sharing, send them to us to post as Photos of the Week.

1. I am not an expert on this. This is just what I have been told by various tour guides and other local residents.

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Duke Dillard moved to Turkey with his wife and 6 children in 2007. He got an MBA at Bilkent University in Ankara, where they had their 7th child. After 4 years in Ankara the whole family moved to Cappadocia, and this blog was born. We love Cappadocia and Cappadocians and want to help visitors make the most of their time here. You can connect with Duke on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and/or link circles on Google+. Click here to read more about Duke and his family.