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Cappadocia

Cappadocian landscape

"There is no second Cappadocia in the world"

Cappadocia

 

Cappadocia and Mount ErciyesCappadocia, the name of the area, surrounded by the cities: Nevşehir, Niğde, Aksaray, Kayseri and Kırşehir, means "The Land of Beautiful Horses".

Its place in Turkey’s tourism is very important because of the historical traces it carries of the Hittites, Phrygians, Persians, Assyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires.

Cappadocia is not only a religious centre of Christianity in the area with a history that goes back as far as 4000BC but also very famous for its amazing natural wonders "the fairy chimneys" and the underground cities.

Fairy Chimneys: The Fairy Chimneys are formed of the tufa from the volcanic activities of 3 nearby mountains Erciyes, Hasan and other smaller eruptions 1000’s of years ago. In time severe water and weather erosion.. rain, wind, ice, baking sun etc, of the local TUFA rock (compressed volcanic ash) resulted in natures carving of the geological formations we call "the fairy chimneys".

There are three types of fairy chimneys in Cappadocia:
Cap, Mushroom and Conical.

Fairy chimneys with caps are mostly found around Zelve, mushroom type around Gülşehir and conic ones in Devrent Valley on the road between Avanos and Ürgüp.

Underground Cities; According to the ancient documents there are about 200 underground cities in Cappadocia. 50 of these have been found and some are open to visitors. The underground cities according to their sizes are: Derinkuyu 11 floors, Kaymaklı 7 floors, Özkonak 4 floors. Mazı and Tatlarin Underground cities are 1 floor deep. The first three are the most popular ones.

The exact construction date of these underground cities is still unknown. But possibly go back to pre-Christian period. St. Paul and his friends arrived here during their missionary period and decided it was a suitable place to spread Christianity, they settled here, thence tried to bring all Christians together. The population grew with many new followers arriving, later taking refuge and hiding in the underground cities mostly to avoid Roman persecution. Because they had often had to spend years in the underground cities, they built elaborate food storage, and vineries and other sections according to their needs.

By the end of 3rd century AD the area had become mainly Christian and most of the churches had been built during this period.

Churches; It is estimated that there are more than 1000 churches in the area. The most important ones are accepted to be: Tokalı Kilise (Buckled Church) in Göreme Valley, Elmalı Kilise (Apple Church), Yılanlı Kilise (Serpent Church), St. Barbara Church, Karanlık Kilise (Dark Church) and Çarıklı Kilise (Sandal Church).

The churches are full of paintings and adornments that depict the characteristics of Christian art and the religious lifestyle of their period. In some of the churches the colors and the pictures have retained their vividness to our day.

Cappadocia is on UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage list and can be visited all year around, but because it has a continental climate it is hot and dry in the summer and has very cold winters. Therefore the best time for traveling here is either Spring April, May, June or late summer / Autumn September to early November.

Cappadocia has so many places of interest, the most important spots to see in are: Avanos, Zelve, Göreme, Uçhisar, Ortahisar, Ürgüp, Mustafapaşa, Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı, Özkonak, Gülşehir, Ihlara Valley and Hacıbektaş.