23km (14 miles) east of Nevsehir; 6.5km (4 miles) east of Göreme

It's hard to believe that Ürgüp is not the capital of Cappadocia. It's certainly the region's de facto center of action, having bested Nevsehir (the actual capital) for charm, convenience, authenticity, and soul. No longer a village but not quite yet a city, Ürgüp still manages to strike a balance between preserving its rural Anatolian roots and cultivating an unobtrusive yet irresistible tourist infrastructure. To meet the rising demand, hoteliers are all too eager to create perfectly charming romantic retreats for an increasingly upscale market. Crumbled hovels are becoming the exception rather than the rule, but like the transformation of Ürgüp itself, the human odors of food and sweat are being scraped away with the top layers of porous tufa. Of course, one day all of the abandoned terraced houses will have sprouted brand-new facades, a gentrification process that, while polished and attractive, will probably be devoid of the character that drew me here in the first place. But for now, Ürgüp remains a tranquil yet convenient corner of Cappadocia that makes an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding valleys, particularly sans wheels.

The village is also a peaceful retreat for some quiet time, where you can walk around the old deserted section of town or enjoy the view from the lookout point atop windy Temmeni Hill.