Cappadocia 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, Nevsehir, Nigde, Kayseri and Kirsehir .For most people , the name Cappadocia suggests the towns and vicinities of Uchisar, Goreme, Avanos, Urgup, Derinkuyu, Kaymakli and Ihlara, 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 an atmosphere that is ethereal and unwordly. Get ready now to take a brief journey into 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.
Milions of years ago, three of the mountains in Cappadocia – Erciyes , Hasandag and Gulludag- 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.
The eruptions 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 smaler 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 Kizilirmak, resulting in what we see today.Floodwater pouring down the sides of valleys combined with strong winds tore away the softer volcanic rock exposing the harder varieties and resulting in the formations known as “fairy chimneys” of which there are several types in Cappadocia – conical, pointed, columnar, mushroom-shaped an deven 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 Kosk Hoyuk in Nigde and Asikli Hoyuk in Aksaray as well as in the Civelek Cave in Nevsehir.During the Early Bronze Age, Cappadocia came under the influence of Assyrian civilization thanks to extensive trade , and it was during this period that writing 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 , floowed by the Hittites, Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzanties, Seljuks, and Ottomans were all enchanted by the allure of Cappdocia and left the imprint of their own.
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 influences.Cappadocia was where different faiths and philosophies met and influenden one another.
Cappadocia’s trade and resource were tempting prized and the region was frequently prizes and the region was frequently invadede, 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 necesesary to lie low for extended periods of time, these troglodytic dwellings eventually became subterranean cities that included sources of water, places of store food ,wineries, and temples.Some of the 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 sekin refuge. One group, whisch 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 hearts, 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, layout, and decoration are fascinating and amazing.The whole panoply of religious architecture- basilicas with single, double, or triple naves, cruciform plans, vestibules, aisles, apses, domes, colums, pillars, in these churches, and all of it has been hollwed out of the stona.Many of the churches are decorated withpainstakingly 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 regin 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 Muslim scholars and philosophers.In th 14th centurt, the Turkish and Muslim mystic, Haci Bektas-i Veli settled down in the Nevsehir county called Hacibektas today.The core tenets of this sage’s philosophy, which was crucial to achieving unity among the differen Turkish groups in Anatolis, embody the spirit and substance of the 1948 Universal Dedaration of Human Rights.
Yunus Emre, another 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 brother hood of trade and craft guilds founded by Ahi Evran first developed in Kirsehir and spread out from there, sowing the seeds of love in the hearts of people everywhere in Anatolis.
In the province of Nigde, frescoed churches and dwellings carved into the cliffs extend from Ihlara valley, whisch 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 Egritas, Agac Alti, Kokar, Yilanli, Purenli, and Sivisli churches.
How about stopping by one of the ” wine houses of Urgup” that are waitng 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 crytall goblet, it will be an experience that youu’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 modern techniques of wine-making there are stil 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 Goreme-Kiliclar and Gulludere, in Urgup’s Uzengi valley, in the Ortahisar Balkan Deresi and Kizilcukur valleys, in the Cat valley near NevSehir, and Soganli valley in Kayseri province!According to Muslim 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 camera’s ready, some outstanding images are waiting to be your models.The splendid scene of the town of Uchisar seven kilometers from Nevsehir, has an appeal that is irresistible.From the heights of the Uchisar citadel, you have a magnificent and unrivalled view of the whole region.
We arrive at the “belif centers”, where the air is thick with an enigmatic nimbus.Goreme and its environs, located ten kilometers forum Nevsehir, are thought to have been used as a necropolis during Roman times by the inhabitants of Venessa( Avanos.)The churches of Durmus Kadir, Yusuf Koc, El Nazar, Sakli, Meryem Ana, and Kiliclar cast a spellbinding effect upon visitors.The Goreme Open-Air Museum is where the “educational system that unified all the ideas of Christianity” of St Basil the Great and his brothers, was born.In the Tokali church, the Convent of Monks and Nuns, the Chapel of St Basil, and the Elmali, Yilanli, Karanlik, and Carikli churches the architectural details and frescoes seem as alive today as when they were new.
Cavusin, located two kilometers froum Goreme, is one of the oldes inhabited places in the region. The fresco scenes in the Cavusin church are distinctive because of their unusual compositions. Kilise, Pasabaglari and the Cell of St Simeon are amon the mos impressive sites at Zelve.
In Avanos, located 18 kilometers from Nevsehir, there is a tradition of pottery-making that has been alive since Hittite times.We’ve already reached the pottery-making center, crowded with people at work or watching.If you want to give it a try, call at a workshop, don an apron, and take up your position before a Wheel.What happens next will depend your imagination.Master potters standing nearby 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 pleasurable moments along with the piece you made yourself.
In Urgup, 20 kilometers east of Nevsehir, the St Theodora ( Tagar ) and Pancarlik churches are elaboraterly decorated with religious art.
In the town of Ortahisar, six kilometers from Urgup, the most impressive sight is the once strategically important Ortahisar citadel.Fine examples of Cappadocia’s vernacular architecture cluster thickly around the base of the citadel.Also worth seeing is the Uzumlu church, on the western side.Six kilometers South of Urgup is Mustafapasa ( Sinasos ) a town justifiably famous for its splendid 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 Acigol.The Tatlarin church is graced with well-preserved frescoes.
Twenty kilometers from Nevsehir are the Aciksaray ruins and the Church of St John in the town Gulsehir.The town of Hacibektas, 45 kilometers from Nevsehir, has a fine museum that includes the tomb of the famous philosopher and mystic Haci Bektas-i Veli. On 16-18 August every year, activities commemorating Haci Bektas-i Veli are held and draw large crowds of his disciples as well as visitors.
The Karabas, Kubbeli, and St. Barbara ( Tahtali Kilise ) churches located in Soganli Valley in Kayseri province’s Yesilhisar county are particularly important because of their architectural styles and their detailed fresco scenes.
The Eski Gümüs church, located in the town of Gümüsler, eight kilometers northeast of Nigde, is a cliff-monastery church and is decorated with fresco scenes that are extremely detailed and telicately executed.In addition to this, the underground cities of Kavlaktepe, Fertek, Konakli, Baglama, Kayirli and the Yesilyurt and Akdas Andabalis churches are sites worth visiting that are of great importance of Christians.Ancient city of Tyana ( Roman Period ) is worth seeing.Built into the Ucayaki Derefakili, Aflak, and Aksakli caves in Kirsehir province, are historic places of worship that are important for Christianity.
Mention has already been made of the Cappadocia region’s “underground cities” place that are as amazing as they are fascinating.There are many of them but the most extraordinary are the ones at Kaymakli, Derinkuyu, Mazi, Ozkonak, and Tatlarin.In Kirsehir province, the underground cities of Mucur, Dulkadirli, Inlimurat, and Kumbetalti 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 Cappadocia region has been designated a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Visitors to it have an opportunity to view distinguished examples of Seljuk, and Otoman art and architecture as well.Some of the most outstanding examples of these are the Grand Mosque, Egri Minaret, and the Alayhan and Sultanhank caravanserais – examples of seljuk period Works in Aksaray province; the Sarihan Caravanserai ( Seljuk ) and the Urgup Taskinpasa Mosque ( Karamanli period ) in Nevsehir province; and the Sungur Bey and Alaadin mosques, two Seljuk works in Nigde. In Kayseri province, some of the places worth visiting are Doner Kumbet (Tomb), Sircali Kumbet, Ali Cafer Kumbet, Cami Kebir, the Hunat Hatun Kulliyesi (Complex), the Kursunlu Cami (Mosque), Gupgupoglu konagi (Mansion) , the Kara Mustafa Pasa Caravanserai, and Karatayhani Caravanserai. While in Kayseri, be sure to make a stop at the Museum of the History of Medicine, located in what used to be the Þifaiye Medrese.This was the first medical school and hospital in Anatolia, and was built at the behest of Gevher Nesibe, a sister of the Seljuk Sultan Giyaseddin Keyhusrev I, in 1205.Magnificent works of historical and artistic importance in Kirsehir province include the Cacabey Mosque, the Ahi Evran Mosque, the Asikpasa Tomb, the Melikgazi Tomb, the Yunus Emre Tomb, and Kesikkopru.
Cappadocia generously spreads before visitors an extraordinary and lavish banquet of natural wonders exceeding their wildest imagination and elegantly graced with works by the hand of man. Discovering these marvels from a hot-air balloon in voyage unique to the Cappadocian region is an experience unlike any other as you race with the doves through the sky’s shades of blue and behold below the sinuous terrain extending into infinity, the enigmatic and artistically magnificent churches, and the pyramids, cones, mushrooms, and hats of the fairy chimneys.The shops and markets in which the local handicrafts are displayed and offered for sale reveal a palette of colors, patterns, and designs that is unlimited in its variety.The locally-quarried onyx is carved into countless shapes before coming to its potential buyers.The local rag dolls, sweetly reflecting all the warmth and charm of the region are dressed in delightfully colored and patterned fabrics and are certain to appeal to collectors.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, historical, 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.And those who behold these things become parners in that wish. Our own wish and hope is that you too will have the chance to visit and experience these indescribable feelings for yourself.