The city of Kayseri, located in the Cappadoccia region of Turkey, is a city of proud conservative people. It’s thought of as an ugly city and often bypassed by tourists in favor of more beautiful natural scenery. In reality, it’s got some interesting sites that make it worth a day of exploration, especially to enthusiasts of Selçuk architecture.
Kayseri was founded by the Hattians around 3000 BC and was later ruled by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines as the city of Caesarea (Καισάρεια). It was sacked by the Selçuks in the 11th century, and because the entire population was massacred, it was uninhabited for nearly 50 years. It was gradually repopulated, rebuilt, and renamed Kayseri.
Flights to Kayseri land at Kayseri Erkilet Havalimanı, only 5km from the city center. Most domestic flights are served by Turkish Airlines and Pegasus to Istanbul. There are various international flights available, mostly from Germany.
Getting around Kayseri’s historic city center can be done on foot. Otherwise, a light rail system, Kayseray, can get you to and from the Kayseri Otogarı (bus terminal). It runs right outside of Cumhuriyet Meydanı. To get to the bus terminal, you have to get off at the Selimiye stop and walk a long block. See the map for more details.
For food, Kayseri is famous for Kayserı mantısı (tiny meat filled dumplings covered in yogurt and spices) and pastırma (cured meat). I found the pastırma for sale everywhere, but it was nearly impossible to find good mantı in town. Why? A waiter told me it’s because people in Kayseri always make it at home and don’t go out to eat it. He said I would be able to find better mantı in restaurants in Istanbul than in Kayseri. Makes sense.