UNIQUE LANDSCAPES AND INSIGHTS INTO A FASCINATING UNDERGROUND WORLD
Cappadocia is a unique region in central Turkey with some fascinating scenery and famous for its fairy tale landscape, cave dwellings and extraordinarily spectacular rock formations. A historical region in central Anatolia, at an altitude of over 1,000 meters on the rugged plateau north of the Taurus Mountains. The area stretches over 5,000 km in length that includes the provinces of Nevşehir, Niğde, Aksaray, Kırşehir and Kayseri. The central area contains many of the small towns that are spread across the various hills and valleys. The name Cappadocia is derived from the Persian word Katpaktukya, which translates to “the land of beautiful horses”, in ancient times the region was famous for its horses.
The extinct volcanoes Erciyes, Hasandagi and Golludag created the foundation stone of this wonderful landscape 65 million years ago with their forces of nature. Various layers of tuff stone were formed by several hundred meters of thick flowing lava, which were eroded and formed over the following thousands of years. Wind, rain and the resulting rivers formed the characteristic fairy chimneys, called by the locals “Peri Bacalar”, out of the rock and also created green valleys full of bushes and trees as well as deeply incised canyons. The earliest traces of settlers date from around 6,500 BC. Various civilizations such as the Hittites made the soil fertile as early as 1,600 BC for wheat growing. This was followed by the Phrygians and Lydians, then in the late 7th century BC and then the Medes and the Persians. The region was considered one of the most important early Christian centers and was under Byzantine rule until 1071. Christians lived here until the 20th century, leaving the strongest cultural traces.
Cappadocia lay on the famous 6,400 km long Silk Road trading route, used from the second century BC until the middle of the 15th century from Asia over India to East Africa and Europe. It linked the Western and Eastern worlds economically, culturally and politically from a very early date. Often defenseless against the passing caravans, the residents had to find hiding places, so they began to carve from the soft rock and build underground cities to defend themselves against attackers. This resulted in countless cave dwellings carved from the rock, some of which are underground and an amazing ten stories deep. Up to 600 churches were discovered and show beautifully painted frescoes, which, despite the passing centuries, are still very well-preserved.
Read the full article in Issue 17