Field Note: Walking in the Land of Fairy Chimneys

Title: Walking in the Land of Fairy Chimneys in Goreme, Cappadocia


I personally have never seen a fairy. I love the movie Peter Pan and would twirl around my house as a child pretending to be Tinker Bell, but that was when I was a little girl.  Yet when I heard about the Fairy Chimneys in central Turkey, I knew that I had to see them.  I thought, “Do they really think fairies exist? Could it be real?” My mom and I visited these mysterious chimneys and even took a hot air balloon ride through the valleys where they stand! I may not be Tinker Bell but I felt just like a fairy floating above the Fairy Chimneys of Turkey!


Turkey is a country with rivers, beaches, dry deserts and mountains that touch the sky. The valley of the Fairy Chimneys is located in the central part of Turkey and it is southwest of the capital city of Ankara. These chimneys are known to the people of Turkey as peribacalar. Millions of years ago there was a volcanic eruption that sent lava and ash across the lands of central Turkey. These unique rock formations formed as a result of erosion wearing away at the lava that covered the ground. People lived in these natural dwellings for thousands of years and even built underground cities beneath the valleys. According to the oral tradition of the region, the people who found these rock formations really believed that deep underneath the ground of the chimneys lived communities of fairies!

I was amazed when I visited Cappadocia to see the Fairy Chimneys for myself. Like so many interesting shapes in nature, these formations have changed over millions of years. Now there are valleys of volcanic remains that look like mushrooms! It was like being on another planet. Have you ever seen a science-fiction movie? I felt just like I was in a movie. We hiked through valleys and gorges with thousands of Fairy Chimneys lining the skyline. The coolest part was our hot air balloon ride. We had to get up at six in the morning but it was so magical watching the sun rise in a balloon floating over the thousands and thousands of fairy chimneys below us.

Just like caves were used for homes millions of years ago, these neat rocks were the homes of Turkish people up until the 1950s. That was only 60 years ago! Can you imagine living inside a cave formed from a volcano’s explosion? The world holds to many amazing stories and nature is to thank for many of these stories. The people who lived in these caves did not even have to add onto what nature had already made. These caves are very important to the history of Turkey and they represent a really neat part of the world. Did you know that even Alexander the Great was amazed by these Fairy Chimneys? The nature in Turkey is more unique than any other place in the world I have visited.

What does this creature, plant, or land formation look like?

The Fairy Chimneys look like sand castles to me. They are taller than trees and look like the towers of a castle! They are a sandy, brown color and look like beautiful pillars against the clear blue sky. Some of the fairy chimneys have beautiful purple and pink flowers growing into their sides that bloom during the spring and make the valleys look even more magical.

How did I feel when I saw it?

The sight took my breath away! I felt nervous at first because they were so tall. Every valley of fairy chimneys made me feel like I was on another planet because they were so different from anything I have ever seen. I felt like I was an explorer who discovered a whole, new world!

Where does it live?

These rock formations are located right in the middle of Turkey in a region called Cappadocia. I took a plane and a very long car ride from the airport to reach these valleys. Even though it is far away from Istanbul, thousands of people come to see these formations every day!

How does it use its environment to survive?

It took millions of years for these majestic fairy chimneys to form but due to pollution and the windy environment, the rocks are still eroding with time. The streams that flow through the valleys keep the flowers and trees alive which helps to keep the rock formations protected.

What can harm this creature or structure? Are we worried about it?

Although these chimneys look fragile, they are not going anywhere! We can only harm this form of nature if we do not respect the fairy chimneys. People who litter and destroy parts of the rock formations are the biggest threat to their survival.

Fairy Chimney1

Fairy Chimney3

Fairy Chimney 2

Fairy Chimney 4

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