Cappadocia is the name of, both geographically and historically
captivating area in the centre of Turkey.
10 million years ago the three mountains in the region were
active volcanoes and erupted. The lava produced by these volcanoes
formed a layer of tufa and some basalt on the plateaus which
was between 100 and 150m thick. Starting in the Early Pliocene
Period, the rivers in the area, especially Kızılırmak (the
Red River), wind, rain and melting snows contributed to the
erosion of this layer of tufa stone, eventually giving the
area its present day shape, having turned it in to the land
of the 'fairy chimneys' . Various types of fairy chimneys,
are found in Cappadocia. Among them, those with caps and cones,
mushroom like forms, columns and pointed rocks. Fairy chimneys
are generally found in the valleys of the Uçhisar-Ürgüp-Avanos
Underground Cities: Besides the geographical
formations, some of the most interesting cultural riches in
the Cappadocia Region are the underground settlements of varying
sizes. The name "underground city" is widely used,
however, only some of them were big enough to accommodate
3000 people and can be called "underground cities"
but it is possible to call other small ones as "underground
villages." Since the Cappadocia region was subjected
to frequent raids, the aim of building these cities was to
provide people with places where they could take shelter temporarily
during times of danger. The underground cities were connected
by hidden passages to almost all the houses in the region,
which were also carved out of tufa. Hundreds of rooms in the
underground cities were connected to each other with long
passages and labyrinth-like tunnels. The rooms are including
the kitchens, wineries, livinrooms, bedrooms, chapels and
stables. There are shafts used for both ventilation and communication.
Goreme Open Air Museum: By the end of the
2nd century a large Christian community was formed in Cappadocia.
In the 4th century St. Basil the great, the bishop of Caesarea
(Kayseri) created a new unit in Christian thought. And many
of these thought and actions are still important today. St.
Basil founded small, secluded settlement in Goreme, far away
from villages and towns. Daily worship was carried out under
the supervision of a preacher. These three men An example
of their doctrine is the advice to Christians should give
half of the bread to a fellow believer and trust in God to
take care of him. These groups were not, however, privileged
groups separated from the community like similar communities
in Egypt and Syria. Among over 600 churches.
Ihlara Valley, is the canyon that was created
by the cracking and collapsing, which occurred as a result
of basalt and andesite lava from Mt. Hasandağ's eruption.
The Melendiz river found its way through these crack, eroding
the canyon we see today. The 14km long, 100 -150m high valley
begins at Ihlara and ends at Selime. There are numerous dwellings,
churches and graves built into the valley walls, some of which
are connected by tunnels and corridors. The valley proved
to be an ideal place for the seclusion and worship of monks,
and a hideaway and defense area for people during times of
invasion. The decorations in the churches can be dated to
various times from the 6th to the 13th centuries, and the
churches can be classified into two groups. The churches near
to Ihlara display frescoes with Oriental influence. Those
nearer to Belisırma display Byzantine type decorations.
Sarihan (Yellow Caravanserai), around 10km north of Urgup,
was constructed by Seljuk Sultan Alaattin Keykubat in 1217.
It has a huge courtyard with elaborate gateway, and was used
for the loading of animals and a place for travellers break
their journey. It is also a great example of Seljuk-Turkish
architecture. The road was re-laid and the building restored
in the late 1980s, and is now functioning as a museum and
cultural centre with performances of dervish dancing in the
summer. There is little public transport to Sarihan.
About 5 km from Avanos and 1 km from Pasabaglari, Zelve was
founded on the steep northern slopes of Aktepe. Consisting
of three separate valleys, the ruins of Zelve is the area
with the most 'fairy chimneys' - a famous sight special to
Cappadocia - which here have sharp points and thick trunks.
It is not known exactly when people began living in the dwellings
carved into the rock, found in places like Uchisar, Goreme,
Cavusin and Zelve. What is known is that Zelve was an important
Christian community and religious centre in the 9th and 13th
centuries, and the first religious seminars for priests were
held in the vicinity.