Cappadocia generously spreads before visitors and extraordinary and lavish banquet of natural wonders exceeding their wildest imagination and elegantly graced with works by the ahand of man.
The region known in ancient times as Cappadocia is the setting for some of nature's most bizarre wonders.It incorporates the provinces of Aksaray.Nevşehir ,Niğde,Kayseri,and KirŞehir.For most people,the name Cappadocia suggests the towns and vicinities of Uçhisar,Göreme,Avanos, ÜrgÜp,Derinkuyu,Kaymakli,and lhlara,where ,in the course of millions of years,the land has been shaped into fantastic forms,"Fairy chimneys"that seem haunted,and cities and houses of worship that extend many meters deep into the earth are all enveloped in an atmosphere that is ethereal and unworldly.
Get ready now to take a brief journey into the Cappdocian region,where Mother Nature painstakingly worked miracles that defy the imaginatin and where the living elements of history,cultue,art,and society are inextricably linked.
Million of years ago,three of the mountains in Cappadocia Erciyes,Hasandağ-were active volcanoes;indeed,this activity persisted intermittently at least into the Neolithic period if one considers the evidence of prehistoric panitings found on the walls of caves.
The eruptions appears to have begun in the Upper Miocene,less than 70 million years ago,in which lava began to flow from volcanoes submerged in Neogene lakes.The plateau of tuff formed from the matericals discharged by the main volcanoes was continuously altered by the eruptions of smaller and less violent volcanoes.
From the Upper Pliocene onwards,these layers of tuff were exposed to erosion by rain and the waters of lakes and rivers,particularly the Kizilirmak,resulting in what we see today. Floodwwater pouring down the sides of valleys combined with strong winds tore away the softer volcanic rock exposing the harder varieties and resulting in the formations known as "fairy chimneys" of which there are several types in Cappadocia-conical ,pointed ,columnar,mushroom-shaped and even a type that looks as if it's wearing a hat !
The Cappadocian region has been inhabited since prehistoric thimes.The evidence of this is plentiful,but best examples of it has been unearthed at Köşk Höyuk in Niğde and Aşikli Höyuk in Aksaray as well as in the Civelek Cave in Nevşehir.During the Early Bronze Age,Cappadocia came under the influence of Assyrian civilization thanks to extensive trade,and it was during this period that writing was introduced.Researchers have turned up hoards of so-called "Cappadocian tablets"-clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform writing---whose tests speak of tax regulations,interest rates,marriage contracts,trade disputes,and much else besides.The Hattis,followed by the Hittites,Phrygians,Persians,Romans,Byzantines,Seljuks,and Ottomans were all enchanted by the allure of Cappadocia snd left the imprint of their own presence here.
Because of its locaton,Cappadocia was in extremely critical and strategic region.Important trade routes-- including the illustrious Silk Road--traversed it both east and west and north and south.As a result of this heavy traffic,the region was a complex web of historcal and cultural influences .Cappadocia was where different faiths and philosophies met and influenced one another .
Cappadocia's trade and resources were tempting prizes and the region was frequently invaded,raided,and looted.To protect themselves from such depredations,the local inhabitants took to living in the region's caverns and grottos whose entrances could be concealed so as not to be noticed by trouble-making outsiders.Since it might be necessary to lie low for extended periods of time,these troglodytic dwellings eventurally became subterranean cities that included sources of water,places to store food,wineries,and temples,Some of them date back to beofre the Christian era.
In the early years of the first millennium,groups of Christians fleeing from Roman persecution began moving into the inaccessible wilds of Cappadocia seeking refuge.One group,which arrived here from Jerusalem via Antioch and Caesarea in the second century,settled down in the area now called Derinkuyu.Finding the soft volcanic tuff easy to carve,they began expanding the natural caves,linking them together and in addition to dwellings ,creating chapeis,churches,and whole monasteries as they shaped with their hearts,minds ,and hands the peace and security that they so desperately sought.
There are said to be more than a thousand churches and chapels in Cappadocia.The variety and artistry of their architechture,layout ,and decoration are fascinating and amazing .The whole panoply of religious architechure--basilicas with single ,double,or triple naves,cruciform plans,vestibules,aisles,anpses,domes,columns ,pillars,and more -- can be found in these churches,and all of it has been hollowed out of the stone.Many of the churches are decorated with painstakingly executed frescoes,The monumental task of restoring ,repairing,and maintaining these churches and underground cities goes on continuously even while they receive thousands of visitors a year.
If your camera's ready some outstanding images are waiting to be your models.The splendid scene of the town of Uçhisar,seven kilometres from Nevşehir,has an appeal that is irresistible.From the heights of the Uçhisar citadel,you have magnificent and unrivalled view of the whole region.
We arrive at the "belief cantres"where the air is thick whith an enigmatic nimbus.Göreme and its environs,located ten kilometres from Nevşehir, are thought to have been used as a necropolis during Roman times by the inhabitants of Venessa .The churches of Durmuş kadir,Yusuf Koç,Ei Nazar,Sakli,Meryem Ana ,and Kiliçar cast a spellbinding effect upon visitors.
Göreme Open-Air Museum is where the"educational system that unified all the ideas of Christianity"of St Basil the Great and his brothers was born.In the Tokali church,the Convent of Monks and Nuns,the Chapel of St Basil,and the Elmalil,Yilanli,Karanlik ,and Çarikli churches the architectural details and frescoes seem as alive today as when they were new.
In Ürgup,20 kilometres east of Nevşehir,the St
Theodora and Pancarlik church are elaborately docorated with religious art.
In the town of Ortahisa,six Kilometres from Ürgup ,the most impressive sight is the once strategically important Ortahisar citadel.Fine examples of Cappadocia's vernacular architechture cluster thickly around the base of the citadel.Also worth seeing is the Üzumlu church ,on the western side.
In Avoanos ,located 18 kilometres from Nevşehir,there is a tradition of pottery-making that has been alive since Hittite times.We've already reached the pottery-making centre,crowded with people at work or watching.If y ou want to give it a try,call at a workshop,don an apron and take up your position before a wheel.What happens next will depend upon the skill of your hands and the vividness of your imagination .Master potters standing nearby and smiling will lend you their moral support and maybe give you a few pointers,When you leave,don't forget to pick up an example or two of the craftsmen's skill as witnesses to your pleasureable moments along with the piece you made yourself.
Mention has already been made of the Cappadocia region's "Underground cities ",places that are as amazing as they are fascinating.There are many of them but the most extraordinary are the ones at Kaymakli,Derinkuyu,Mazi, Özkonak ,and Tatlarin.In kirşehir province the underground cities of Mucur,Dulkadirli, lnlimurat,and Kumbetalti are also quite impressive in their extent and layout.These were all used as shelters for great lengths of time and ,having undergone restoration work,they are now open to visitors.
Cappadica generously spreads before visitors and extraordinary and lavish banquet of natural wonders exceeding their wildest imagination and elegantly graced with workds by the hand of man.Discovering these marvels from a hot-air ballon in voyage unique to the Cappadocian region is an experience unlike any other as you race with the doves throught the sky's shades of blue and behold below the sinuous terrain extending into infinity ,the enigmatic and aritstically magnificent churches,and the pyramids ,cones,mushrooms ,and hats of the fairy chimneys.
The shops and markets in which the local handicrafts are displayed and offered ofr sale a palette of colours,patterns ,and designs that is unlimited in its variety.The locallyquarried onyx is carved into countless shapes before coming to its potential buyers.The local rag dolls ,sweetly reflecting all the warmth and charm of the region are dressed in delightfully coloured and patterned fabrics and are certain to appeal to collectors.Pottery-making,porcelain manufacturing,leather-working,handicrafts,and the making of delectable wines are well-developed activities in the region of Cappadocia,nature's "art gallery ",whose natural ,historical,and cultural assets entice visitors with their miracles and spells.
Cappadocia wishes to be a symbol of the unforgettable with places and memories imbued with the peace promised by the doves wheeling through the heavens.And those who behold these things become partners in that wish.Our own wish and hope is that you too will have the chance to visit and experience these indescribable feelings for yourself.