After going to Zelve Open Air Museum (see post here) we headed over to Paşabağları Müze ve Örenyeri, or the Fairy Chimneys to see some fascinating natural stone structures. Paşabağları was originally known as the “Valley of the Priests” and is covered in these fairy chimneys. Inside some of the chimneys are chapels, seating spaces, and living spaces.
As I discussed in my first post on Göreme about the land formations in Cappadocia, this area of Turkey had active volcanoes. The lava formed layers of varying hardness. These layers include tufa (porous limestone made from calcium carbonate), ash, clay, sandstone, basalt, and other materials. The fairy chimneys formed when erosion wore away the tufa layer. This erosion came from wind whipping through the valley and floodwaters.
The tufa and other soft layers eroded away while the stronger basalt layers at the top stayed put. This led to interesting mushroom cap shapes. The cone is tufa and volcanic ash and the caps hard, resistant rock. All of these layers create various color patterns as well on the rock.
By the time we reached the Fairy Chimneys, there were many more tour buses and groups than at Zelve Open Air Museum (Zelve Açık Hava Müzesi). It is a smaller site and harder to get away from others. This did lead to a lot more waiting for photo turns and photos with people in them!
We parked and headed to the entrance. There were many shops and stalls and vendors we had to walk past to get to the entrance. If you don’t have a ticket already from Zelve Open Air Museum, there is a ticket booth. There are also bathrooms near the entrance.
It was a longer walk to the site than for Zelve, but it was smoother and easier. Clearly designed for hordes of tourists. We had fun exploring the site and hugged a few fairy chimneys. Going into the carved chapels and spaces required waiting our turn.
Location: Near Zelve Open Air Museum. Located here about 10 min from downtown Göreme. There are several parking lots attached to the Fairy Chimney site.
Hours: 8-7 summer (April-October) and 8-5 winter (October-March). Ticket booth stops selling tickers 45 min before closing.
Cost: 18 tl (about $3.25) for a combo ticket for Zelve Open Air Museum and Paşabağları Archaeological Site (Fairy Chimneys). Also included in the MuseumPass. Our kids (6 and 4) were free.
Food and Drink: There were a number of cafes and shops selling food and snacks.
Bathrooms: At the entrance near all the shops is a large bathroom area.
Kid Considerations: Easier walking than Zelve Open Air Museum. Flatter with wider walking paths. Some paths are paver stones and some are smooth dirt. There are some narrow paths, but you can reach the majority of the sites on main walking paths. A stroller would work for most of the site. To go into the rock structures involves climbing and even some adults needed boosts or a hand!