A three-day visit to Kapadokya allowed us to experience small town life and nature in Turkey. Kapadokya is a highland region in central Turkey, a 12 hour bus ride (600+ km) from Istanbul. The landscape is stark yet scenic, due to a history of volcanic activity and erosion. One might compare it to Death Valley or the Badlands (South Dakota) in the USA. Kapadokya is unique because of humankind’s use of the geology. Cave houses, rock churches, and even underground cities are scattered throughout the region. Kapadokya is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Kapadokya’s geology is really neat. Long ago, the three volcanoes in the area erupted around the same time. The lava flow filled up the valley between the volcanoes. Years of erosion sculpted the landscape, leaving many valleys with rock formations sticking out of the ground. Among the most famous and unique formations are the “fairy chimneys” shown below – conical formations with mushroom-like caps.
Various groups of people settled the region over time, starting in prehistoric times. Rather than building houses, they made their dwellings within the caves created by nature. We were able to visit many cave dwellings. They could be found all over the region.
Some of the ancient civilizations took things even further by creating underground “cities.” Several levels deep and capable of housing thousands of people, these cities provided temporary shelter from attacking foes. Today, the cities are used to store and age food, since the climate is cool and constant within.
Early Christians settled in Kapadokya to escape from Roman persecution. The caves were good hiding places from pursuing soldiers. Eventually, Christian monks lived here permanently. They built small “rock churches” in the caves and decorated them with beautiful frescoes.
Kapadoyka is full of scenic beauty. You could spend several days going here and there to see the various landscapes. We were able to see some of this on our tour. One morning, we went a pleasant 4km hike in the Rose Valley. Too bad we didn’t see more. I have a nice farmer’s tan from sunglasses after the time spent in Kapadokya 🙂
Here’s one final photo, a panorama from the Rose Valley. Click here to view a large version of the photo.
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