(The cappadocia region has been designated a world heritage site by UNESCO)
It’s name was probably derived from Katpatuka, land of the beautiful horses, in Hittite language. Cappadocia region located in the center of Anatolian Peninsula ,with its valley,canyon,hills and unusual rock formations created as a result of the eroding rains and winds of thousands of years of the level,lava –covered plain located between the volcanic mountains Erciyes,Melendiz and Hasan as well as its troglodyte dwellings carved out of the rock and cities dug out into underground,presents an otherworldly appearance. ). It was here that several ancient highways crossed and different cultures came into contact with each other. It was also the land of the Hittites.Cappadocia is selected as one of the best areas in Europe
The eruptions of these mountains which were active volcanoes in geological times lasted until 2 million years ago.
A soft tuff layer was formed,150 m in thickness,by the issuing lavas in the valley surrounded by mountains.
The rivers,flood water running down the hillsides of valleys and strong winds eroded the geological formations consisting of tuff on the plateau formed with tuff layers,thus creating bizarre shapes called Fairy Chimneys.
These take on the names of mushroom shaped, pinnacle, capped and conic shaped formations.
During the era of roman the area served as a shelter for the early escaping christians.It became a major center of Christianity famed for its rock-cut churches during the Byzantine epoch.
After the Sassanid and Arab invasions the area fell to Seljuk Turks in 1082.there are several thermal springs in Cappadocia.
Churches in Cappadocia
It is estimated that there are more than 600 rock-out churches in Cappadocia.These churches that people carved were similar in plan to the ones in the capital. Walls were covered with beautiful frescos and they were also influenced by the Iconoclast period in the 8c-9c.
There are many places to “must see” in Cappadocia like; Fairy Chimneys, Göreme Valley National Park and open air museum, underground cities of Kaymakli, Derinkuyu or Ozkonak, Zelve Valley and Pasabag, Avanos with its pottery and carpets, . In the evenings, you may either just enjoy your stay at your hotel or go in Sarihan Caravanserai near Avanos to see the whirling Dervishes of Mevlana, founder of Sufism in Anatolia (Turkey) Uçhisar rock fortress, Ortahisar rock fortress, Ürgüp, Ihlara valley, Soganli, Sinasos and Hacibektas. In the summer (from May to November) several alternative tours can be arranged: Hot air balloon trip over the chimneys, trekking, walking, horse riding, motorbike or mountain biking around the valleys.
Göreme open air museum:It is where the ‘’educational system that unified all the ideas of Christianity’’ of St.Basil the Great and his brothers,was born in the Tokalı church,the Convent of Monks and Nuns,the Chapel of St.Basil and the,Elmalı,Yılanlı,Karanlık,and Çarıklı churches the architectural details and frescos seem as alive today as when they were new.
Çavuşin:located two kilometres from Göreme,is one of the oldest inhabited places in the region.The fresco scenes in the Çavuşin church are distinctive because of their unusual composition.
Ortahisar:the most impressive sight is the once strategically important Ortahisar citadel.fine examples of Cappadocia’s vernacular architecture cluster thickly around the base of citadel.also worth seeing is the üzümlü church,on the western side.
Mustafapaşa(sinasos):A town justifiably famous for its splendid Stone Works.the chapel of St.Basil is decorated with motifs reflecting the iconoclastic system of thought.
Avanos:There is a tradition of pottery-making that has been alive since Hittite times.Carpet is also very famous with this small town.It was built along the banks of Kızılırmak(Haly rivers)the longest river originating and ending within the borders of Turkey.Its water is colored by Cappadokia’s rich deposits of clay,hence Kızılırmak the red river.
Zelve:Located behind the valley where the ruins of Zelve lie,are the unique rock formations called Fairy Chimneys,Today called ’Paşabağları’.And a chapel built in honor Of Saint simeo.
The zelve ruins are on the northern slope of aktepe in front of Paşabagları.This is the place of Capadocia where the conic fairy chimneys are densest.
Ürgüp:In fact the settlement consisting of dwellings hollowed out of the face of the step rocky cliff in the valley of creeks Tomisos and Damasa was called Baş Hisar(main castle)during the Seljuk Turk era.The fairy Chimneys formed by the eroding rainwater and wind on the slopes of the valley in the area and the dwelling hewn into rocks produce a singular spectacle.Today it is in the service of tourism with its touristic accommodation facilities,vineyards and wines.
Hacı Bektaş:With arrival of İslam in anatolia,it also became the home of a number of famous Muslim scholars and philosophers.In the 14.th century ,the Turkish and Muslim mystic ,Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli settled down in the nevsehir county called Hacıbektaş today.The core tenets this sages philosophy ,which was crucial to achieving unity among the different Turkish groups in Anatolia ,embody the spirit and substance of the 1948 universal declaration of human rights.
The town Hacıbektaş has a fine museum of famous philosopher Hacı Bektaş-i Veli that includes his tomb.Every year activities commemorating Hacı Bektaşi veli are held and drew large crowds of his disciples as well as visitors.
Ihlara Canyon is a deep,narrow river gorge cut through the tufa by the Melendiz River.The river running through the ıhlara canyon at its lowest level is still contributing to the erosion of it.The canyon runs for 20 km/12 miles offering one of the most enjoyable trekking routes to those people who can spare the minimum of half a day.It is about 150m.There are about 60 churches,monasteries and cells of anchorites in the canyon.
Underground cites:The ground of the city consists of the same volcanic tufa. Cappadocians created vast cities which can’t be noticed from the ground level.They carved airshafts as deep as 85m/300ft in to the rock and then made holes laterally at different levels in all directions.they hewed an elaborate system of staircases and tunnels to connect all layers to the surface.they dug dwellings,bathrooms,kitchens,dining halls,storage rooms,wine cellars,chapels,graves and suchlike.In times of danger they provided security by Rolling big round Stones across strategic tunnels.Entrances at the surface were also camouflaged.
Today even from some of modern houses there are manmade holes leading to underground passages most of whic are used as cellars.
Today the underground cities of Kaymaklı,Derinkuyu,Mazı,Acıgöl,Özkonak are well worth a visit.