Kayseri is an industrial city in Central Anatolia set in the shadow of Erciyes Dağı (Mount Aergeus). With impressive Seljuq Turkish architecture, buildings made of volcanic stone, historical places of interest and bustling bazaars, Kayseri is a fine destination to stay for a few days or longer, especially if exploring Cappadocia.
Many Turkish cities have a monument, museum or memorial to the great founder of the Turkish Republic and Kayseri joins that rank. Atatürk Evi Müzesi is the traditional house where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk stayed when he visited Kayseri and is now a small museum as well. After visiting, walk to Bestepeler Park and find a shaded picnic spot.
Kayseri Castle which was built in the 3rd century by the Byzantines is found at the center of the Hisar (citadel) and interestingly is built on flat ground, unlike many other castle fortifications that take prominent elevated positions. The black-basalt walls form part of what's left of the city's defenses, which included extensive city walls. The castle previously held many shops that have now been moved to the bazaar.
Seek out the numerous kümbets (tombs) that are scattered around Kayseri such as the Sircali Kümbet and the Döner Kümbet that was built in the 13th century for an imperial princess and is the most photographed tomb in Kayseri with a cylindrical tower with conical roof and Arabesque decoration.
Mingle with the locals at the Bedesten warehouse with excellent kilims and carpets near the Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) in the central city. If carpet shopping isn’t your thing, then stop into a restaurant to eat some of the famous manti (meat dumplings served with yoghurt and spices) that are well known as originating in Kayseri.
Kayseri has a handful of unique museums to discover. Start at the free entry 18th century Güpgüpoğlu Konağı that has been restored to serve as Kayseri's Ethnographic Museum with displays including costumes, metalwork and kilims. Afterwards, focus your attention to the Archaeology Museum with exhibits of historical importance including stone tablets and ancient manuscripts. Don’t skip the garden here – it is dotted with large urns, sarcophagi and statues of the Hellinistic and Roman periods.
One hour’s drive from Kayseri is the unmissable Göreme Open-Air Museum, a cluster of rock-cut chapels and monasteries set uphill from Göreme's centre. Note that the museum’s main highlight – the Karanlik Kilise – has extra entrance fees, but your entrance includes the Tokalı Kilise, set on the hillside with an underground chapel.
Ürgüp is just under one hour from Kayseri and is a remarkable area at the edge of a UNESCO World Heritage listed valley. Stay in a cave hotel, stroll around the small Roman excavations at Sobesos or float over the Cappadocian fairy chimneys in a hot air balloon.