If you are interested in history, you shouldn’t miss the chance of visiting Ortahisar Castle that was a fortress in Byzantine times. The castle was built both as a settlement and defense. In 2013, after extensive renovations, it was opened for the public. Some tourists ignore this site and visit Uchisar Castle, its more-known counterpart, but you should visit both. If you can climb to the summit, the views from there would make your experience unforgettable.
It’s hard to find a tourist that visits Ortahisar town and doesn’t visit the castle. This great landmark in the town is a 90m high natural structure and has tunnels and caves. Even though it has partly fallen apart, you do not get a sense of human presence inside.
There is not much know about when the defenses were built in Ortahisar, but it’s clear that a fortress was built here in the Byzantine-era. Some researchers believe that it was built on the foundations of a building from the Hittite era. Three fortresses guarded Cappadocia in the Byzantine period: Kadi Castle in Urgup, Ortahisar Castle, and Uchisar Castle.
The fortress was built on a rock, known as the largest fairy chimney in the region. It started to erode in modern times, so in 2004, due to the risk of accidents, the castle was closed for the tourists. But then, to prevent the structure from collapsing the process of renovation began. Seismic studies were conducted and to prevent further erosion, walls were filled with different materials.
The renovation was completed in 2013 and it opened for the tourists, who started to come in high numbers. Around three thousand people visited the site in the first days. Most sightseeing tours take tourists to Uchisar Castle, which looks more attractive from the outside and is easier to climb.
There is another castle in the town, located opposite to the Ortahisar castle. It is known as Isaac Castle and the common perception is that the both castle are connected through an underground tunnel. It is believed that this tunnel was used to travel in the early era of Christianity.
The castle opens daily for the public, from 8 am to 6 pm. You should be fully prepared if you want to explore the castle completely. It’s not an easy climb, so wear proper shoes that can protect you from slipping. You will have to climb a vertical ladder and go through narrow corridors to get to the top of the castle. At the top, there are chains that protect you from falling. But still, be careful and watch out for other travelers, especially the young ones. When you get to the top, the views from there are breathtaking. If you are visiting in winter, you will able to view the sunset from the top. But, if you are visiting in summer, you can’t view the sunset from the peak as the castle closes hours before the sunset in summer.
There are different ways to get there. You can use public transport or travel in the car. The castle is located in the center of the town; you can take minibusses from Nevsehir and Urgup to reach here. You can also go in your car or rent a car, it’s a better option as it will allow you to visit different sites easily.