Cappadocia is a place in central Turkey. It is unique with lunar like landscapes, underground cities, mushroom shaped rock formations, houses carved in rocks and cave churches. It is covered Aksaray, Nevsehir, Nigde, Kayseri and Kirsehir provinces in central Anatolia. It is located between Taurus Montains and Black Sea region. The name “Cappadocia” means “ the land of beautiful horses” in Persian. The earliest record of this name goes back to 6th century BC. Herodotus tells that “Cappadocian” name given to the locals by Persians since called as “White Syrians or Syrians” by Greek. It is also mentioned in some Biblical sources as well.
The lava covered plains of Cappadocia shaped with winds, rains and other natural forces and became Cappadocia today, a breathtaking, magical, lunarlike landscape. The flood water, winds, storms and rivers changed the tuff into mushroom shaped rock formations which we call fairy chimneys.
In prehistoric ages, people of Cappadocia lived in underground cities to protect themselves from wild animal and weather conditions. There are a lot of underground cities in Cappadocia but the biggest one is Derinkuyu underground city.The cities made as rooms connected each other. Most of them connected with a narrow tunnel that only one person can fit in. The Access through the gate were with huge Stone rollers. They were used to secure the entrances.
In its history, Cappadocia hosted Asyrians, Hittites, Frigians, Perians, Byzantians, Seljuks and Ottomans. Asyrians were the first occupants of Cappadocia. They established trade colonies in this area. We learn the social and political environmet of Cappadocia from Asyrian Cappadocia Tables written with cuneiform Asyrian language. Later on this area became the core of Hitite Empire. By time Frigians ,Persians and Roman Empire ruled Cappadocia.
The first Christians escaped from execution of Roman Empire in 2.nd century came to Cappadocia over Antalya and Kayseri. They formed a large Christian community in Cappadocia. Saint Basileious from Kaisera and Saint Gregorios from Nysa and Saint Gregory of Nazianus had settled in Cappadocia. They discovered the underground cities and hidden there to escape from Roman soldiers. They developed these underground cities, provisions rooms, ventilation chimneys, wine production places, churches, abbeys, water wells, toilets and meeting rooms.
In 647 AD Cappadocia suffered from Arab invasions and 1072, the area has been added to Seljuk Empire. In 1399 it has been addewd to Otoman lands by Sultan Yildirim Beyazit.
Goreme: Goreme is located amongst the fairy chimneys. It has been called Korama, Matiana, Maccan or Machan, and Avcilar through the history. This town established in Roman period and carries the Roman and Christian historical effects. This area named as “Goreme National Park “ and became a “UNESCO World Heritage Cite“ in 1985.
In “ Goreme National Park” the most important historical remains are rock churches. Despite there are a lot of small churches, Durmus Kadir Church, Yusuf Koc Church, El Nazar Chruch, Virgin Mary Church, Tokali Church, The Elmali Church, Saint Barbara Church, Yilanli Church, Karanlik Church, Sakli Church and Carikli Church are the most important ones.
Uchisar: Uchisar is famous with its castle. It is stated the summit in Cappadocia. Goreme and fairy chimney located under Uchisar castle. There are many chambers, houses, shelters, storerooms, cisterns, tombs, cellars carved in rock in Uchisar. As its is the only place both Erciyes and Hasan Montains can be seen best, Uchisar Castle used to control the Royal Road in Persian perion and Silk Road in Seljuk period. It has used both as watch tower and a defensive castle. Also there are several more castles carved in rocks in this area.
Urgup:Urgup is the biggest town in Cappadocia area. It is the tourist center of Cappadocia. There are numerous houses and cellars carved in rocks and the remains from Asyrians, Hittites and Persians can be seen. Also Urgup is the main town of Cappadocia with many hotels, night life and activities. Also Urgup is a center for wine making. It worths to visit a wine cellar when you visit Urgüp and taste best wines in Turkey.
Devrent Valley: Devrent valley has never been inhabited. You cannot find Roman Castles, Rock Houses or underground cities in Devrent Valley. That makes it unique with its moonlike landscape. It is called as Imaginery Valley or Pink Valley because of the fairy chimneys with interesting shapes. Some rocks looks like animals, some looks like more specific things. Even there is a rock looks like Virgin Mary, holding Jesus Christ. While you are visiting Devrent valley, you should let your imagination fly and you will have an unforgettable experience.
Pasabag: Pasabag is located between Goreme and Avanos, on the road to Zelve. It is also called “Monks Valley” because of some rock formations with cone shaped capes. The hermitage of Simeon monks was here also. The hermits of Cappadocia lived in seclusion and carved into fairy chimneys and lived there to seperate themselves from the world. They carved chimney from bottom to top to create room of 10 or 15 meters high. In Pasavalley the fairy chimneys are mushroom shaped with sometimes two even three rock capes. Because of this Pasabagi is one of two places in Cappadocia with the most beautiful fairy chimneys.
Avanos: Avanos is the capital of Nevsehir province. It is seperated from the rest of Cappadocia by Kizilirmak river which is the longest river in Turkey. Its ancient name is Venessa. The is most important historical feature of Avanos is earthenware pottery making which stil continues today. The ceramic trade and pottery factories in this district is dating back to Hittites. Kizilirmak River supplies the town with red slit to be used in pottery making. There are numerous family run potteries in Avanos. They have a large product range from ashtrays and mugs to chess sets to ornated plates and flower pots.
Cavusin: Cavusin village is about 4 kms from GoremeOld Cavusin used to be a village with rock cut dwellings and Stone houses. . It is abondoned several decades ago due to avalanches. The two important places to see are two churches. One constructed in the name of Byzantine Emperor Nicephoros Phocas and the other one is the church of Saint John the Baptist.
Zelve: Zelve is unhabitated since 1952 because of the erosion. Zelve monasterty is not ornated with rich frescoes like the other areas in the region. But the first seminaries to train priests in Cappadocia took place here. Direkli Chruch, Uzumlu Church, Balikli Church and Geyikli Church is located in Zelve. Also there is a mill, a mosque, a tunnel to connect two valleys and houses in this area. In 1967 Zelve has turned into an open air museum.
Kaymakli Underground City: Kaymakli underground city has built under the hill we know as Kaymakli Castle. The area used to be called as Enegup in Grek. The city is carved in the rock as 8 floors but today only 4 floors can be visited, the rest is stil going to be revealed. There is a stable at the first floor. It leads to a church with a millstone door. Also there are rooms built as living spaces. There is a church on the second floor with a single nave and two apses. There is an atlar and seating places in front of the apses. Also there are living spaces in this floor. The third floor is the most important part of the city. There are storage rooms, wine cellars, wine and olive presses and kitchens on this floor. The large area reserved for storage rooms and kitchens shows the need of supplies for a large community. Kaymakli is one of the largest underground settlements in Cappadocia area.
Derinkuyu Underground City: .Derinkuyu underground city is the largest excavated underground city in Turkey. It used to be known as the underground city of Median Empire. It was 13 floors and large enough for 20,000 people with their food supply and livestock. It is extending about 60 meters depth. The city was closed from inside with heavy Stone doors. Each 13 floor could be closed from inside seperately. The room with a barrel vaulted ceiling on the second floor is unique for Derinkuyu. It was used as a religious school and there were other rooms to be used as studies. There is a vertical staircase between third and fourth floors leading to the cruciform church on the fifth floor. Also there is a large 55 meters ventilation shaft also used as weel. This weel used to supply water to villager above and in the underground city.
Ihlara Valley: It is a 16 km gorge cut into rock. Its depth is about 100 meters and it shaped by Melendiz River.There are 4 entrances to the valley and the most popular one has about 300 steps down to valley. There are numerous old churches in the valley, because it was the first settlements for the Christians who escaped from execution in Roman Empire. Also with plenty of water supply in hidded places the flora of Ihlara Valley is unique. It is a pleasant walk through the valley between vineyards and grooves and listen to the soothing sounds of the valley.
Ortahisar Castle: As its name implies, Ortahisar is in a central position between Goreme, Urgup, Uchisar and Nevsehir. There are natural cool-air storages in Ortahisar. They cut into the rock to preserve food. Green lemons brought from Mediterranean get yellow and ripe in time slowly in those storages.
The town is famous with its stone houses , narrow streets and beautiful churches. Ali Reis Church, Balkan Church, Sarica Church, Kepez Church and Pancalik Church are some of them. Also Hospital Monastery also known as Hallacdere Monastic complex, 1 km northeast of Ortahisar is the best example of courtyard monasteries. It has a large tomb chamber, a kitchen, vestibule, a church with cross plan and vestibule.
Hacibektas: Hacibektas is the center of Bektasi sect of Islam. Haci Bektas Veli is the founder of this sect so the town is named after him. It is possible to visit the dervish lodge in Hacibektas town. Also you can see suffering house (cilehane), five Stones (bestaslar) and the Alevi temple (cemevi).