On the Dragon’s Back: Mount Erciyes

Kayseri Airport being a scant hour-and-a-half from Istanbul by airplane, flying is the most practical way of getting there. The biggest city in the entire Cappadocia Valley, Kayseri sits smack dab on the cusp between the Central Anatolia steppe and the Eastern Anatolian Plateau, which boasts the highest mountains in Turkey. Before or after you climb Mount Erciyes, set aside some time for a panoramic view of the surrounding area and a city tour of Kayseri, an old historical town.

A magical landscape

You can reach the Erciyes Ski Center, which is 25 km from Kayseri, via the road that connects the town of Hisarcık to the Tekir Highlands. Accompanied by postcard-pretty landscapes, the road winds through the snow-covered steppe amid wooden shepherds' huts, flocks of goats and natural springs large and small. As you climb to the snow-capped summit of Erciyes, an extinct volcano, the Kayseri Plain will spread out below you like a sheet. And when you reach 2,000 meters, the Cappadocia Valley and its unique geological formations will come into view. The mountain road that links Kayseri to the ski center is kept open even in the harshest winter weather under the watchful eye of the local authorities. Nonetheless, chains are a must for those who make the drive up in their private car, a journey that may take up to two hours from the city center under difficult road and weather conditions. When you step out of your car at the ski center and feel the cold snow under your feet, you won't believe that Erciyes was once a fiery volcano spewing terror in every direction. However, on the gold and copper coins found at the imposing ancient town of Mazaka, which was brought to light on the mountain's highest slopes, Erciyes (ancient Argaeus) is depicted...

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