Located in the central Anatolia, the area is called Cappadocia, bounded by cities, Kayseri, Nigde, Aksaray, and Nevsehir. Best time to visit Cappadocia is Spring and Autumn and most popular places to visit are; underground cities like Derinkuyu, Kaymakli and Cave churches like Goreme and Ihlara valley.
Cappadocia attracts thousands of tourists every year and is considered one of the most important places in Turkey for visiting. The area is a combination of natural rock formations and history. Outdoor activities like Cappadocia hot air balloon, safari ride, jeep ride are available all year round and handicraft ateliers are nice spots for shopping. You can join these activities with one of the most popular Cappadocia tour itinerary; 4 Days Cappadocia tour from Istanbul.
Formation of Cappadocia
In remote geological times two volcanoes; Mt. Erciyes (3917m) in Kayseri and Mt. Hasan (3268m) in Aksaray erupted and poured out lava, ash and mud that formed a plateau. Due to the erosions caused by rain, rivers and wind, the area has been carved out into a fantastic lunar landscape. Two major rock formations are found in the area; tufa and basalt. The former are quite soft and more vulnerable to outside effects and can easily be carved, while the latter are harder and less affected by weather.
History of Cappadocia
Thousands of years Cappadocia attracted many settlers and the oldest traces of human settlement can be traced back to neolithic ages. Archaeologicts discovered some remains of pottery and obsidian tools. Traces of Hittite settlement was discovered at Acemhoyuk, Nigde, Acigol and some other places of Cappadocia.
As from 6th century BC until 3rd century BC, Cappadocia was one of the Persian provinces (Satrapies) in Anatolia. After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, Cappadocia was given to one of his generals, Eumenes. In 17 AD, Emperor Tiberius made it a Roman province in Asia Minor.
Due to its harsh landscape which provided perfect sheltering and protection, Cappadocia became quite popular for many hermits who came here and settled escaping from the distractions of big cities. Early Christians also came and settled here escaping from the Roman tortures. They carved their shelters and churches into the volcanic tufa rocks and devoted themselves to a monastic life, prayer, fasting, and penance.
In 7th centurt AD, Cappadocia threatened by Arab raids and the monastic community digged underground shelters to protect themselves from possible attacks. These underground cities was cut out of the soft tufa rock and was self sufficient with living quarters, kitchens, stables, churches, and even wineries. They also carved storage rooms for food and ventilation shafts for the fresh air providing them a safe place in case of danger.
After the arrival of Turks the monasteries were abondened and later occupied by local people. However some churches continued to be open to Christian sevice until 1923 when an exchange of communites took place between Greece and Turkey, and unfortunately Christians left Cappadocia completely.
Most Popular Visiting Sights in Cappadocia
There are many amazing sights to visit in Cappadocia. You can see the most popular ones below. And if you want to explore these sights with a professional tour guide, you can check the Cappadocia tours on ToursCE.
The village that derives its name from a huge rock that was used as an impresive medieval castle. On top of a cliff marked by several man made caves, the Uchisar castle provides a breathtaking view of an area between Nevsehir, Urgup, Avanos and Ortahisar. The rock outcrops, eroded by natural effects into cone peaks, pyramidal towers and many other different bizarre shapes represents a fantastic environment.
In the shape of a huge amphi-theatre, the Zelve Valley is one of the most fascinating land formations of Cappadocia. In a place where three canyons meet, the rocks were cut out of countless caves and several churches dating back 9th and 10th C. AD.
There are clusters of cone peaks (so called Fairy chimneys) topped with black basalt caps. From the very erly times the caves in the valley were largely used as dwellings by humans. Two important churches in Zelve valley are Uzumlu Kilise (The Church of the Grapes) and Geyikli Kilise (The Church of the Deer)
Goreme Open Air Museum
Goreme is a nice town in Cappadocia which was formerly known as ‘Korama’. Nearby the modern town there is a valley shaped with rock outcrops and was carved as a monastery in early Christian period. Today the area is used as an open air museum which consist of several rock carved churches.
The most significant one are the “Tokali Kilise” (The Church of the Buckle); a short distance outside the main museum area, “Elmali Kilise” (The Apple Church), an 11C Church that was decorated impressive colored frescoes, “Karanlik Kilise” (The Dark Church); the most influensive one with frescoes which were perfectly protected from the damages of sunlight due to its location, and “Yilanli Kilise” (The Church of the Serpent).