Cappadocia is the ancient name of an old civilization and the region they have lived on. It is a geological wonderland which is sometimes considered to have covered a triangular area among Kayseri, Nigde and Nevsehir. At the same time a smaller triangular area among Urgup, Avanos and Nevsehir. You can view Cappadocia from from different aspects such as Nature, History and Religion. Violent eruptions of the volcanoes Mt. Erciyes (3,916 meters) and Mt. Hasan (3,268 meters) long ago covered the plateau surrounding Nevsehir with tufa, a soft stone comprised of lava, ash and mud.
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INFORMATION ON CAPPADOCIA
The wind and rain have eroded this brittle rock and created a spectacular surrealistic landscape of rock cones, capped pinnacles and fretted ravines, in colours that range from warm reds and golds to cool greens and greys. Locals call these fascinating capped pinnacles "peri bacalari" or "fairy chimneys." Goreme National Park, known in Roman times as Cappadocia, is one of those rare regions in the world where the works of man blend unobtrusively into the natural surroundings. Dwellings have been hewn from the rocks as far back as 4,000 B.C. During the 19th Century BC Assyrian traders establishes theri homes among the native city states of Cappadocia. The following centuries, till 1200 BC, Cappadocia formed the lower land of the hittite kingdom. Cappadocia became a persian province from where the famous Persian Royal Road passed, from Sardis to Susa. While Cappadocia was ruled by a native Dynasty during the 2nd & 1st C BC, we see them becoming a Roman province in the early 1st century AD. The Roman period ofCappadocia continued from the 1st C through the 4th C AD followed by the Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottoman and Turkish periods. During Byzantine times, chapels and monasteries where hollowed out of the rock, their ochre-toned frescoes reflecting the hues of the surrounding landscape. Even today cave dwellings in rock cones and village houses of volcanic tufa merge harmoniously into the landscape.
Urgup, a lively tourist centre at the foot of a rock ridge riddled with old dwellings, serves as an excellent base from which to tour the sights of Cappadocia. In Urgup itself you can still see how people once lived in homes cut into the rock. At the centre of a successful wine-producing region, Urgup hosts an annual International Wine Festival in October.
Leaving Urgup and heading south, you reach the lovely isolated Pancarlik Valley where you can stop to see the 12 th - century church with its splendid frescoes, and the Kepez church, which dates from the 10 th century. Continue on to the typical village of Mustafapasa (Sinasos), where traditional stone houses with carved and decorated facades evoke a former age. Travel on in a southerly direction, just past the village of Cemil, where a footpath on the west side of the road leads to Keslik Valley where you will find a monastery complex and the Kara and Meyvali Kiliseler (churches), both decorated with frescoes. Back on the main road you find the village of Taskinpasa where the 14 th-century Karamanid Mosque and Mausoleum Complex, and the remains of a medrese portal on the edge of town make for a pleasant diversion. The next village is Sahinefendi where the 12 th - century Kiriksehitler church, adorned with beautiful frescoes, stands at the end of a footpath 500 meters east of the village.
Soganli Valley, 50 km south of Urgup, is picturesque with its innumerable chapels, churches, halls, houses and tombs. The frescoes, from the 8 th to the 13th centuries, trace the development of Byzantine painting. Four kilometres north of Urgup is the wonderful Devrent Valley, where the weather has eroded the stone into peaks, cones and obelisks called fairy chimneys.
Two kilometres west, in the Catalkaya Valley, the fairy chimneys have a peculiar mushroom-like shape, which has been adopted as a symbol of the town.
The Goreme Open-Air Museum, a monastic complex of rock churches and chapels covered with frescoes, is one of the best-known sites in central Turkey. Most of the chapels date from the 10th to the 13th centuries (the Byzantine and Seljuk periods) and many of them are built on an inscribed cross-plan with a central cupola supported by four columns. In the north annexes of several churches are cut-rock tombs. Among the most famous of the Goreme churches are the Elmali Church, the smallest and most recent of the group; the Yilanli Church with fascinating frescoes of the damned entwined in serpent coils; the Barbara Church; and the Carikli Church. A short way from the main group, the Tokali Kilise, or Buckle Church, has beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from the New Testament.
The town of Goreme is set right in the middle of a valley of cones and fairy chimneys. Some of the cafes, restaurants and guest-houses are carved into the rock. For shoppers, rugs and kilims are plentiful.
Continuing on the road out of Goreme, you enter one of the most beautiful valleys in the area. Rock formations rise up before you at every turn and entice you to stop and wonder at their creation. For those who climb the steps to the top of the Uchisar fortress the whole region unfolds below. Rugs, kilims, and popular souvenirs can easily be purchased from the shops which line Chaser's narrow streets.
At Cavusin, on the road leading north out of Goreme, you will find a triple-apse church and the monastery of St. John the Baptist. In the town are chapels and churches, and some of the rock houses are still inhabited. From Cavusin to Zelve, fairy chimneys line the road. Unfortunately, it is dangerous to visit the churches in the Zelve valley because erosion has undermined the floors.
The charming town of Avanos, on the banks of the Kizilirmak River, displays attractive local architecture and is known for its handicrafts. Every August the town hosts an Art and Tourism Festival where a creative and friendly atmosphere pervades.
On the Nevsehir - Urgup road you can't miss Ortahisar and its carved-rock fortress. The churches in the Balkan Valley are some of the oldest in the Goreme region. In the neighbouring Hallac Valley-, the Hallac Monastery displays decorations from the 10th and the 11th centuries. North of Ortahisar, the Kizilcukur Valley is breathtakingly beautiful, especially at sunset. In the valley is the 9th - century Uzumlu church.
The underground cities of Kaymakli, Mazi, Derinkuyu, Tatlarin, and Ozkonak were all used by Christians of the seventh century, who were fleeing from persecution. They sheltered from the iconoclastic strife of Byzantium as well as other invasions in these safe and well-hidden complexes. These cities were a complete and self-sufficient environment, including rooms for grain storage, stables, sleeping chambers, kitchens and air shafts. Today they are well-lit, and an essential and fascinating part of a Cappadocian tour.
West of Avanos, Gulsehir has Hittite rock inscriptions, and nearby, at Gokcetepe, there is a bas - relief of Zeus. South on the Nevsehir road is the 13th - century church of St. John, and farther along is Aciksaray, where the carved rocks hide churches and chapels.
South of Kayseri, in Develi, stand three more important Seljuk buildings: the Ulu Mosque, the Seyid-I Serif Tomb and the Develi Tomb. The nearby Sultan Marshes are the habitat of many bird species, of interest both to ornithologists and nature lovers.
North of Kayseri, Kultepe, known in ancient times as Kanesh or Karum, was one of the earliest Hittite commercial cities. Dating from 2000 B.C., Kultepe was also one of the world's first cities of free trade. Today, however, only the foundations remain. Many of the finds can be examined in the Kayseri Archaeological Museum. On the same road is Sultanhan, a caravanserai built by the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat in the early 13th century and a favorite stop for tourists. Bor, south of Nigde, was once a Hittite settlement. The town's historical buildings include the Seljuk Alaeddin Mosque and the Ottoman bedesten. Farther on, in the same direction, Kemerhisar is the site of the important Roman city of Tyana. A few more kilometres brings you to some Hittite ruins and a Roman aqueduct. Cappadocia wellcomes you any time of the year with it's still unspoiled enviroment.