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Cappadocia is a historical area located in the Central Anatolia region between Nevşehir, Kayseri, Kırşehir, Niğde, and Aksaray.
Nonetheless, its beauty exceeds the history of humanity, as countless centuries shaped Cappadocia into its unique and beautiful form.
60 million years ago in the 3rd geological period, the Toros mountain range was birthed, while pressure from the Anatolian plateau gave rise to highly active volcanoes that vomited and spewed lava across the region. The accumulated ashes formed a soft tuff (volcanic rock) layer, which was then partially covered by a thin layer of lava. Formed by basalt, this abraded and cracked over time and penetrated the soft tuff, causing a distinctive abrasion.
With the additional effects of heating, cooling, and winds, cones with ‘hats’ molded from the basalt rocks began to form (and continue to do so today). The name “fairy chimney” was later bestowed on these formations by the early settlers who used them as homes. Meanwhile, the tuff layers that did not have a basalt blanket turned, thanks to erosion over time, into valleys.
Humans weren’t the first “settlers.” In the Persian language, Cappadocia means “land of beautiful horses,” for which the region is still well known. As regards humans, Cappadocia was originally established by settlements some 9–10,000 years ago, but written history begins with the Hittites. Much later, it was an important center for budding Christianity, as evidenced from the engraved stone houses and churches. Indeed, it was somewhat of a sanctuary for early Christians.
Throughout its history, Cappadocia has been a center for trading colonies, acting as a trade and social bridge between countries, for example as an important point along the old Silk Road.
Nature, history, and art have integrated beautifully in Cappadocia. The geography of the area formed the distinctive fairy chimneys, and over the course of time people created houses and churches out of these, decorating them with frescoes that today allow visitors glimpses of the remains of distant civilizations. Indeed, these carvings and frescoes by the first Christians, together with their refuge of underground cities, showcase the harmony of humans and nature.
Cappadocia has always been one of the most popular touristic destinations of Turkey. Every year, millions of tourists visit Cappadocia in order to breathe the magnificent atmosphere and feel the unique natural beauty of the area.
Today, by visiting Cappadocia, you may enjoy the stunning view, have a magical hot air balloon ride and experience a vacation beautiful enough to be a dream.
Tourists can visit Cappadocia for various purposes due to the great diversity of attractions to see in Cappadocia. Even though historical features of Cappadocia is popular, it is also a romantic destination to visit for your honeymoon, proposals or other special occasions.
Some want to see the “fairy chimneys,” the rock formations unique to Cappadocia, with their beloved ones, while some artists wish to capture brilliant views of the place. No matter what you’re interested in, you’ll find an enticing side of Cappadocia.
Cappadocia provides its visitors with an irreplaceable memory for a lifetime. Here, in Cappadocia, you can find whatever you want from a holiday away from the crowd, in such a peaceful but also interesting atmosphere. You can see the first footsteps of the humankind and the first civilizations of Mesopotamia, have traditional Turkish nights full of entertainment activities, explore local cuisine, have restful walks, and even ride a horse and drive ATV in Cappadocia. However you want to spend your vacation, Cappadocia will provide an opportunity to have your dream holiday.
DERINKUYU UNDERGROUND CITY
The underground city of Derinkuyu was discovered by accident in 1963 by a Turkish man in the process of doing home improvements. After knocking down a basement wall he stumbled upon a secret room leading to a tunnel, this opened up into the hidden city, a city that could house 20,000 people, livestock and supplies!
Derinkuyu is the deepest excavated underground city in Cappadocia in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. A beautiful natural wonder with impressive fairy chimneys and eroded caverns, Cappadocia is an amazing geological spectacle. It is also riddled with extensive subterranean dwellings and secret tunnel passages that various people utilized for shelter across the centuries. There are hundreds of these homes in the region, and Derinkuyu is the most famous. At a depth of more than 250 feet with a capacity of up to 20,000 people, this multi-leveled city contained everything an entire population would need to survive a history riddled with invasions.
Below is an artist depiction of the site and how it looks from a cutaway perspective. I really like this as you can see the amazing amount of work that went into creating the city and how it would have been so easy to pass it by and never know it was there, incredible ingenuity.
Thought to have been created during the Byzantine era in 780-1180AD, the network of kitchens, stables, churches, tombs, wells, communal rooms and schools was most likely used as a massive bunker to protect inhabitants from the Arab–Byzantine wars or natural disasters.
During this time, cave-like chapels and Greek inscriptions were added to the ancient city, and about 600 entrances allowed people to come and go.
Heavy stone doors could close Derinkuyu from the inside in order to fend off intruders, and each storey could be shut off individually.
Here is an example of the heavy stone doors used to compartmentalise the levels. These could only be opened from the inside to ensure the safety of the occupants. The picture really doesn't do justice to the work it must have taken to create these doorways as these stone doors weigh up to 1000lbs!
The picture below is a chapel within the site, note the stone arches that have been built here, great craftsman were obviously available to be able to create such a incredible subterranean place of worship. The stone in this area is not as hard as is found at other sites in this series and many of the rooms have been created from natural caves however that in no way takes away from the creativity of the original builders. The subsequent pictures give you an idea of the amazing rooms, living accommodations and stables built so far under the ground.
Due to the city being cut from existing caves and naturally formed underground structures, dating the site in an issue when using traditional archaeological methods. So no one really knows when Derinkuyu was built. It has ties to the Hittites - 1600BC, the Phrygians - 8th century BC and the Persians - from the 10th century BC. So we are looking at a site that is at the very least 3600 years old! The difficulty in dating the site has therefore made it of interest to those who enjoy ancient mysteries such as myself.
The underground city had a water containment system that also took safety as a consideration. It appears that one of the main ventilation shafts also served as a large well. However, the wells within the city did not all link together, nor did they all go to the surface. This protected inhabitants from invaders who might think to poison the entire water system from the outside.
Main ventilation shaft and well
Göreme Open Air Museum
This museum is one of the most valuable open-air museums of not only Cappadocia but also of Turkey. This place had been hosting monasteries from the 4th century to the 12th century. You can see a lot of sanctuaries all around the museum, which are made by engraving rocks inside the caves. Moreover, this museum has been in the UNESCO World Heritage List, since 1985.
Paşabağ Monks Valley
If you want to have a closer look at fairy chimneys, you must visit Paşabağ. Visiting Paşabağ, you will not only see old fairy chimneys but also you will witness the formation of new ones. Furthermore, if you are lucky, you may come across with special events in the area and see the fairy chimneys illuminated.
Ihlara valley is within the borders of Aksaray province in the south of Cappadocia region. It is visited by daily tours from Cappadocia.
The formation of the valley begins with Hasan Mountain’s eruption of a volcanic layer by spraying lava centuries ago. Over the time, floods, winds and the Melendiz Stream, the route of which is the valley, this volcanic layer is eroded. The floor of the ground is deeply carved and the Ihlara Valley, which looks like a canyon, with its depth of up to 120 meters, and the length of 14 kilometers, forms. Although its geological explanation fits in a short paragraph, this valley, which has deep meanings like mystery of the creation of the world, does not actually have a similar example. The effect it creates is understood when you have passed the 397 step stairs, which some travelers actually counts, and do not want to go up again like the monks who lived here in ancient times. Not from tiredness, but from the energy comes from the valley.
Accompanied by Hasan Mountain, Aksaray Ihlara Valley is a place that first does not appear when stepping down the path and make you think ‘is it overrated? where is this valley?’ and then surprises you with its heavenly atmosphere.
There are 105 religious’ buildings in Aksaray Ihlara Valley, with steep slopes and protected from the outside world, giving insight into the former owners of this secret paradise. In the early periods of Christianity, the monks and priests used the valley as a sacred place to dedicate themselves to God.
Cappadocian Type Churches in Ihlara:
If you like to do trekking during your trips, Ihlara Valley offers you the best conditions to enjoy trekking. It is maybe the most exhausting place of the entire Cappadocia, but we can say that it will take your heart away. You can see the breathtaking view from the cliff, and hidden chapels waiting for you to explore them throughout the way down from the hill. Plus, if you do not like to waste your energy on so many physical activities, you can just take a hot air balloon and fly across the valley.
Activities to do in Cappadocia
If you want to have the best vacation of your life and collect remarkable memories, here are the activities you should try.
Taking landscape photos and videos
Millions of professional photographers and videographers around the world visit Cappadocia to capture amazing moments of landscapes in Cappadocia. Even if you do not have any interest in photography, we are sure about Cappadocia will arouse your interest to take photos of the stunning view.
Having a Hot Air Balloon Ride
The very first thing people do while visiting Cappadocia is, of course, having a hot air balloon ride. Seeing the amazing natural beauty of Cappadocia from above is one of the most popular activities guests do.
ATV Tour and Riding Horse
If you like adrenaline-pumping in your veins, you must try having an ATV tour or riding horse around Cappadocia. Today, you can rent ATVs either for an hour or a full day. Farms maintain you educated well-behaved horses you can easily learn how to ride.
Cappadocia Cave Hotels: Where to stay in Cappadocia?
There are many hotels in Cappadocia, both higher end and lower budget options. But if you want a more unique experience, you can check out the cave hotels in Cappadocia. These hotels are carved inside the caves, just as many sights in Cappadocia, are very nicely decorated. You can get the full experience of Cappadocia if you choose to stay in one of these hotels.
What to eat in Cappadocia?
There are a variety of foods you can try in Cappadocia. To taste some of the favourites of the region, you can try gozleme, manti or nohutlu yahni. You can enjoy these with the magnificent view of fairy chimneys.
DID YOU KNOW?
· Göreme Open Air Museum was announced as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
· The largest number of stone churches decorated with frescos is found in Cappadocia.
· 3 of the founders of the Christian Church, St. Basil, St. Gregory from Nazianus, and St. Gregory from Nyssa were from Cappadocia.
· Cappadocia’s underground cities, of which there are 30 known, provided refuge for 100,000 people.
· Despite the fact that most people think the name of Cappadocia means fairy chimneys, it is completely irrelevant. Actually, this name comes from the Cappadocia Kingdom from ancient times. Moreover, its former name was Katpatuka, which means “the land of beautiful horses” in the Persian language.
· Also, Cappadocia has been a great location for movie makers. There has been more than 20 movies and television series shot in Cappadocia. The most famous movie taken in Cappadocia is The Winter Sleep by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. This movie was also awarded a Palme d'Or.
· If having a unique accommodation sounds tempting for you, spending your nights at cave hotels may charm you. With these special accommodating style, you will have the nights of your life.
· The most famous dish of Cappadocia’s cuisine is kebab cooked in a sealed clay pot.
For more information, visit www.museumhotel.com.tr/en/cappadocia
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