Turkey's Penis Rocks

The crazy thing is that nature, not man, made them

Hot air balloon over Love Valley

Paul Biris via Getty

The Cappadocia region of central Turkey is famous for its rugged landscapes, unreal sunsets and the fact that both facilitate what are probably the most scenic hot air balloon rides in the world. In particular, the rock formations of Cappadocia are impressive, some to an obscene extent.

And it is literally obscene, when it comes to "Love Valley" anyway. The craziest thing about this scattering of stone pillars, which is located near the town of Göreme, isn't that they're shaped like huge penises—it's that man, for all his obsessions with his own genitalia, had no part in making them.

The Story of Love Valley

The area around Love Valley has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years, so it's tempting to assume that some ancient people carved the rocks to look like penises. After all, the Pyramids of Giza are just down the road, relatively speaking, so if ancient Egyptians built those, one would hope the Turks of yesteryear could've fashioned rocks to look like their private parts.

As it turns out, however, the penis-shaped rocks of Love Valley are totally natural. It isn't clear exactly how long they've been there, but scientists believe that ancient volcanic eruptions deposited a large amount of ash in the region, which several millennia of wind erosion have shaped into, well, penises.

How Big Are Turkey's Penis Rocks?

It wouldn't be appropriate to discuss anything related to penises, real or imaginary ones, and not bring up the topic of size, right? Well, Turkey's Penis Rocks are absolutely huge.

Specifically, the phallic stones of Love Valley can reach an impressive 50 meters (about 150 feet) in height—they make even well-endowed humans cower in shame!

Pro photo tip: To emphasize the hugeness of the penis rocks, have a friend stand at the base of one of them, then back up until the whole rock fits in your frame.

Size absolutely matters here, and there's no better way to emphasize it than with a perspective like this!

Can You Fly to Love Valley?

To reach Love Valley, fly from Istanbul to either Kayseri or Nevsehir Airport, then use ground transportation to get to Göreme—either an arranged transfer, a private taxi or local buses. If you plan to use local transport, Nevsehir Airport is the best option, as it sits closer to the regional bus terminal than Kayseri Airport does.

An alternative option would be to fly to Konya, a city famous for its association with Sufi poet Rumi, and enjoy the Rumi-related sights of that city—including, perhaps, a spellbinding whirling dervish Sufi "dance" ritual at a historical caravanserai—before continuing on to Göreme.

How to Get to Love Valley—the Final Stretch

Once you reach Göreme, you can technically hike (or bike) to reach Love Valley, although poorly-marked trails mean that all but the most experienced travelers might be better off hiring a guide. To that end, it's possible to take an organized group tour of Turkey's Penis Rocks, even if that's not as, well, intimate.

After arriving at the Fairy Chimneys, as the Penis Rocks are also known, you can take your time walking through them.

But don't stay too long: If you do decide to take a hot air balloon flight over Love Valley (more on how to do that in a second!), you'll need to wake up essentially at the crack of dawn.

A Word of Caution About Balloon Flights in Cappadocia 

The most scenic option for looking out onto the Love Valley is to take a hot air balloon ride from Göreme, such as the one offered by Turkiye Balloons. Balloon flights have become so iconic to Cappadocia that most images you see of the region feature a balloon in them! 

On the other hand, you should keep in mind that your balloon ride is highly dependent on factors such as wind and weather, and plan some wiggle room into your itinerary in the case of a cancellation. It's not common, when traveling in Turkey, to meet others who've had balloon flights canceled several days in a row!

Avoid leaving Cappadocia without having taken your balloon flight by being as flexible as possible—not rigid, like the you-know-what rocks beneath you.

You should also try to stay an extra morning in Cappadocia, so you can take a picture with balloons in it from the ground. In some ways, this sort of photography is even more impressive than the shots you can get from the balloon!