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 triangle.
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.