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 Kırşehir.
For most people, the name Cappadocia suggests the towns and vicinities of Uçhisar, Göreme, Avanos, Ürgüp, Derinkuyu Kaymaklı, and Ihlara, 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. This text gives brief information about the Cappadocian region, where Mother Nature painstakingly worked miracles that defy the imagination and where the living elements of history, culture, art, and society are inextricably linked. Millions of years ago, three of the mountains in Cappadocia -Erciyes, Hasandağ and Güllüdağ - were active volcanoes; indeed. this activity persisted intermittently at least into the Neolithic period if one considers the evidence of prehistoric paintings found on the walls of caves 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 times. The evidence of this is plentiful, but the best examples of it have been unearthed at Köşk Höyük in Niğde and Aşıklı Höyük 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 vvriting was introduced. Researchers have turned up hoards of so-called "Cappadocian tablets"- clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform writing - whose texts 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 the emptions appear 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 materials 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 Kızılırmak, resulting in what we see today. Floodwater pouring down the sides of valleys combined with strong winds töre away the softer volcanic rock exposing the harder varieties and resulting in the formations known as "fairy chimneyş" of which there are several types in Cappadocia - conical, enchanted by the allure of Cappadocia and left the imprint of their own presence here. Because of its location, Cappadocia was an 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 historical and cultural intluences.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 cavems 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 eventually became subterranean cities that included sources of water, places to store food, wineries, and temples. Some of them date back to before 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 (Antakya) and Caesarea (Kayseri) 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 chapels, churches, and whole monasteries as they shaped with their fıearts, 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 architecture, ayout, and decoration are fascinating and amazing.
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.
There is of course more to the history of the Cappadocian region than that of the pagan and Christian world. With the arrival of islam in Anatolia, it also became the home of a number of famous Müslim scholars and philosophers. in the 14th century, the Turkish and Müslim mystic, Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli settled down in the Nevşehir county called Hacıbektaş today. The core tenets of this sage's philosophy, which was crucial to achieving unity among the different Turkish groups in Anatolia, embody the spirit and substance of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Important mystic and poet lived in Aksaray for a while. This poet's love-filled heart has influenced and inspired people around the world. UNESCO declared 1991 to be the "International Yunus Emre Year" in commemoration of the 750th anniversary of his birth.
Akhism, the organized brotherhood of trade and craft guilds founded by Ahi Evran fırst developed in Kırşehir and spread out from there, sowing the seeds of love in the hearts of people everywhere in Anatolia. in the province of Niğde, frescoed churches and dwellingscarved into the cliffs extend from Ihlara valley, which is 40 km from Aksaray, as far as the town of Selime. Some of these structures can be dated back to as early as the 4th century AD. Among the many sights worth seeing are the Eğritaş, Ağaç Altı, Kokar, Yılanlı, Pürenli, and Sivişli
How about stopping by one of the "wine houses of Ürgüp" that are waiting to transform the sweet weariness of our trip into languorous relaxation. Whether your wine is served to you in a rustic earthenware pitcher or an elegant crystal goblet, it will be an experience that you'll never forget. We knew you couldn't resist the taste of the crimson-red or misty-white wines dripping into your cup from the fertile vineyards in which the exquisite grapes of the Cappadocia region flourish Although some local vintners have adopted techniques of wine- modern making, there are still many that remain faithful to the ancient and time-proven methods
Now, let's resolve the mystery of those clouds of white fluttering about us. They're doves! Doves beautifully and exuberantly winging their way in the valleys around Uçhisar, in the valleys of Göreme-Kılıçlar and Güllüdere, in Ürgüp's Üzengi valley, in the Ortahisar-Balkan Deresi and Kızılçukur valleys, in the Çat valley near Nevşehir, and in Soğanlı valley in Kayseri province! According to Müslim belief, the dove is a symbol of family devotion and peace; in Christianity, it's a symbol of the spirit of God. in the heights of nearly all the valleys in the region, you will see dovecotes built into the eastern or southern slopes. These dovecotes are dated back to the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries and provide excellent examples of the art of Islamic painting.
If your cameras ready, some outstanding images are waiting to be your models. The splendid scene of the town of Uçhisar, seven kilometers from Nevşehir, has an appeal that is irresistible. From the heights of the Uçhisar citadel, you have a magnificent and unrivalled view of the whole region. We arrive at the "belief centers", where the air is thick with an enigmatic nimbusr. G
öreme and its environs, located ten kilometers from Nevşehir, are thought to have been used as a necropolis during Roman times by the inhabitants of Venessa (Avanos.) The churches of Durmuş Kadir, Yusuf Koç, El Nazar, Saklı, Meryem Ana, and Kılıçlar cast a spell-binding effect upon visitors.
The Göreme Open-Air Museum is where the "educa-tional system that unified ali the ideas of Christianity" of St Basil the Great and his brothers, was born.
In the Tokalı church, the Convent of Monks and Nuns, the Chapel of St Basil, and the Elmalı, Yılanlı, Karanlık, and Çarıklı churches the architectural details and frescoes seem as alive today as when they were new.,
Çavuşin, located two kilometers from Göreme, is one of the oldest inhabited places in the region. The fresco scenes in the Çavuşin church are distinctive because of their unusual compositions.
In Avanos, located 18 kilometers from Nevşehir, there is a tradition of pottery-making that has heen alive since Hittite times. We've already reached the pottery-making center, crowded with people at tuork or watching. If you want to give it a try, call at a workshop, don an apron, and take up your position before a tuheel. What happens next will depend upon the skill of your hands and the vividness of your imagination. Master potters standing nearhy 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 pleasurahle moments along with the piece you made yourself.
In Ürgüp, 20 kilometers east of Nevşehir, the St Theodora (Tağar) and Pancarlık churches are elaborately decorated with religious art.
In the town of Ortahisar, six kilometers from Ürgüp, the most impressive sight. Is the önce strategically important Ortahisar citadel. Fine examples of Cappadocia's vernacular architecture cluster thickly around the base of the citadel. Also worth seeing is the Üzümlü church, on the western side.
Six kilometers south of Ürgüp is Mustafapaşa (Sinasos), a town justifiably famous for its splended stone works. The Chapel of St Basil is decorated with motifs reflecting the Iconoclastic system of thought.
The town of Tatlarin is located ten kilometers north of Acıgöl. The Tatlarin church is graced with well-preserved frescoes.Twenty kilometers from Nevşehir are the Açıksaray ruins and the Church of St John in the town of Gülşehir.
The town of Hacıbektaş, 45 kilometers from Nevşehir, has a fine museum that includes the tomb of the famous philoso- pher and mystic Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli. On 16-18 August every year, activities commemorating Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli are held and draw large rrowds of his disciples as well as visitors.
Built into the Üçayak, Derefakılı, Aflak, and Aksaklı cave in Kırşehir province, are historic places of worship that are important for Christianity 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 Kaymaklı, Derinkuyu, Mazı, Özkonak, and Tatlarin.
In Kırşehir province, the underground cities of Mucur, Dulkadirli, İnlimurat, and Kümbetaltı 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.
The Karabaş, Kubbeli, and St. Barbara (Tahtalı Kilise) churches located in Soğanlı Valley in Kayseri provinces Yeşilhisar county are particularly important because of their architectural styles and their detailed fresco scenes.
The Eski Gümüş church, located in the town of Gümüşler, eight kilometers northeast of Niğde, is a cliff-monastery church and is decorated with fresco scenes that are extremely detailed and delicately executed. In addition to this, the Underground cities of Kavlaktepe, Fertek, Konaklı, Bağlama, Kayırlı and the Yeşilyurt and Akdaş Andabalis churches are sites worth visiting that are of great importance to Christians. Ancient city of Tyana (Roman Period) is worth seeing.
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, histoncal, 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.