x0x Cappadocia: A stone forest in Anatolia
- x0x Cappadocia: A stone forest in Anatolia
* Taste a unique experience, in the magic land of Fairy chimneys
* A flavour of Cappadocia: Cappadocia is a mysterious natural museum,
a surrealistic landscape of fairy chimneys and strange rock formations
carved by the hand of nature.
Nearly 14,3 Million years ago due to earth movements, the red hot lava
from the volcanoes covered the area including the depthless sea and formed
the volcanic layers up to a thickness between 65 m. and 150 m.. Then the
earthquakes caused a formation of natural craters in some places. Erosion
for millions of years together with wind, rain, hot and cold temperatures,
the beautiful area called Cappadocia was formed.
Although the written history of Cappadocia begins with the Hittites,
evidence shows human habitation as far back as the Paleolithic period.
Cappadocia has two other names in the history. The first was given by
Persians. The Persians that ruled over the region in the 6th century BC
gave the name "Katpatukya" meaning "the land of beautiful horses" to the
The second was "Cappadocia Empire" which was a Roman Empire and which
includes an area from Malatya to Konya and from the Taurus Mountains in
the south to the North Anatolia mountains in the North.
The last name "Cappadocia," which is still in use, was given by the
ministry of tourism. The ministry of tourism thought of giving a name to
the region of fairy chimneys during its establishment in 1964. The
ministry decided to name the region as "Cappadocia" since similar names
were used in history to describe the region.
Lately the tourism ministry organized a three day tour to Cappadocia under
the auspices of Tourism Minister Mustafa Tasar for the ambassadors in
Turkey. The aim of the tour is to promote Cappadocia and show the latest
changes and improvements made in the name of tourism.
The geographic movements has also formed the fairy chimneys and during the
historical development process, mankind had settled and inhabited these
natural wonders. Fairy chimneys and carved houses and churches inside
these formations and adorned these settlements with frescos, carrying the
traces of the thousands of years of their civilizations.
The name "fairy chimneys" was given by a traveller. It is said that a
traveller came to the region in winter. When this traveller could not see
anyone but smoke coming out of stones he thought fairies were living in
the region. He had written to his homeland that he came to a region in
Anatolia where fairies live around different shaped stones. Since then
these natural structures were called fairy chimneys.
In Cappadocia, the Turkish Daily News (TDN) advises you to visit the
Goreme Open Air Museum, Panoramic view from Goreme Esentepe Point, Urgup
Catalkaya Fairy Chimneys, Zelve Ruins, Uchisar Castle, Gulsehir Open
Palace Ruins, Kaymakli Underground city and Ihlara Valley.
Goreme, which hides among the fairy chimneys and churches, is the heart of
Cappadocia. The first period settlement within the region reaches to the
Roman period from Christianity. Goreme, is declared as an open air museum.
The Goreme Open Air Museum is a monastic complex of rock churches and
chapels covered with frescoes. Tokali Church, Priestesses and Priests
Monastery, Elmali Church, Yilanli (Saint Onuphrius) Church, Karanlik
(Dark) Church, Sakli Church and Mother Mary Church within its territories
are valuable places to visit. Unfortunately it is forbidden to take
pictures in these churches, which were most important centers of
Christianity, since they are under protection.
The Esentepe Panoramic view point is also among the places that must be
visited in Goreme. If the weather is clear you would also be able to see
the Erciyes mountain as well as the beautiful fairy chimneys from Esentepe
Zelve is about 5 km from Avanos and was founded on the steep northern
slopes of Aktepe. Consisting of three separate valleys, the ruins of Zelve
is the area with the most 'fairy chimneys.' Zelve was an important
Christian community and religious center in the 9th and 13th centuries.
The first religious seminars for priests were held in the vicinity.
During the tour for the ambassadors in Turkey, the tourism ministry
organized a Sezen Aksu concert in the perfect atmosphere of the Zelve
Ruins. Although the concert was held at night, the perfect light and sound
system attracted attentions of all the people living in Nevsehir, as well
as the guest.
Haci Bektas-i Veli
Haci Bektas is 45 km away from Nevsehir. It is thought that Haci Bektas-i
Veli, whose real name was Muhammed bin Musa and who's dates of birth and
death are not correctly known, but we think he was born in 1209 - 1210 and
died in 1270 - 1271.
Hacibektas, had come to Anatolia from Horasan in a period, when
Seljukian's political and economical order was corrupted, and divisions in
management existed; and showed his best efforts for maintaining Turkish
unity. He had trained young people in the school, which was established by
him in Hacibektas province; and tried to prevent the Turkish language and
culture from foreign impacts and degeneration. His tolerance and humanity
based thought system is reached and was assumed by wide public masses
within a short period of time.
"End of the road, which don't follow science, is dark," "Let women to be
studied," "Hold your hand, tongue and waist," "research is an open
examination," "Whatever you search, search into yourself," "Don't forget
that even your enemy is a human" are the epigrams which explain the
philosophy of Haci Bektas-i Veli best.
The valley is located 40 km. distance to the Aksaray district of Nevsehir.
The valley was formed from the cooling of the molten lava coming from the
Hasan Mountain. The valley with a 14 km. length begins from Ihlara. The
depth of the valley occasionally extends to 100 -150 meters. There are
numerous shelters, burial grounds and churches carved into the rocky
surface of the valley. Some of these shelters and churches are connected
to each other with tunnels, as is encountered in the underground cities.
The valley proved to be an ideal place for the retirement and worship of
monks, and a hideaway and defense area for people during times of
The decorations in the churches can be dated to various times from the 6th
to the 13th centuries, and the churches can be classified into two groups.
The churches near to Ihlara display frescoes with oriental influence.
Those nearer to Belisirma display Byzantine type decorations.
If you like to tour the Ihlara valley the TDN advises you to wear casual
clothes and be prepared to walk down over 800 steps to reach the bottom of
Avanos and Pottery
Located 18 km north of Nevsehir. The ceramic trade in this province with
its countless pottery factories goes all the way back to the Hittites. The
ceramic clay from the red silt of the Kizilirmak (Red River) comes to life
in the hands of the skilled potters of Avanos.
Pottery reached to present age as father passed his skill to his son. The
potters give the desired shape by his skilled hands on a foot-driven
potter's wheel. The pots made in the little shops, are first put out in
the sun to dry and then carefully fired in ovens fueled with straw and
wood shavings, first at temperatures which start around 800 degrees and
eventually reach 1200 degrees. Food dishes, water jugs, storage containers
for winter are all the work of local potters.
Lots of ministers and high rank government officials visited the little
pottery factories. Lately Tourism Minister Mustafa Tasar visited "Chez
Galip," a famous pottery in the region, and taken information about
pottery. If you were interested in pottery, the TDN strongly advises that
you visit the region. You can also visit the "Hair Museum" in Chez Galip,
where millions of people left a piece of their hair together with their
addresses and phone numbers.
Urgup and Turasan Wine Factory
Urgup, which is 20 km east of Nevsehir, is one of the most important
centers of the Cappadocia region. It had numerous names in the course of
historical period. There are hotels in the region which were carved in the
stones where you can still see how people once lived in homes cut into the
Urgup also hosts the Turasan Wine Factory which produces Turkey's most
famous wines. The Turasan Wine Factory produces White and Red wine as well
as sparkling white wine. Kalecik Karasi, Okuzgozu, Bogazkere, Emir, Sedef,
Goreme and Belkis are only a few of these excellent wines. After all
Cappadocia wines are excellent since they are produced with the experience
and difference coming down from 2000 BC.
Near Uchisar is a valley that has become quite popular with hikers. It is
known by many names (Valley of the Pigeon Lofts, Dovecote Valley, Pigeon
Valley) but they all refer to the thousands of pigeon houses that have
been carved into the soft tufa since ancient times. Although they can be
found throughout Cappadocia, they are especially plentiful in this valley
which must have one of the greatest collections of pigeon lofts in the
In Cappadocia, pigeons have long been a source of food and fertilizer. The
advent of chemical fertilizers has reduced the use of pigeon fertilizer.
However, some farmers still maintain their lofts because they insist that
the reputation of Cappadocian fruits as the sweetest and most succulent in
Turkey is entirely due to the pigeons' droppings.
The Underground Cities
The underground cities of Cappadocia probably served as temporary shelters
rather than as permanent hidden cities.
The incessant darkness is hardly conducive to life and some of the
passageways are little more than crawling spaces that would have been
intolerable in long-term situations.
No one is certain as to the number of underground communities that exist
or even by whom they were built. The two largest communities that have
been unearthed are located at Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, 15 and 30 kms. south
of Nevsehir on the Nevsehir-Nigde road.
Kaymakli Underground City
The underground city has eight levels. The security problem was solved
with rolling stones. It is believed that the aim of constructing this
underground city was protection and hiding.
There are tunnels in the city which used to provide communication between
the different levels of the city. The underground city at Kaymakli has a
ventilation system, a water well, a winery and rolling stone doors. The
extensive galleries of the city are spread out over a large area and
connected to one another with tunnels.
To enter the deepest levels of the underground city you should be in a
good mood and you should be fearless. You feel like you are an ant in an
ant farm when you enter the underground city. It is warned that those who
have asthma or heart illnesses should not enter the underground city. The
Indonesian Charge d'Affaires Tojib Hadipirawira described Kaymakli
Underground city as scary but unbelievably interesting during the tour of
the tourism ministry.
Derinkuyu Underground city
This huge underground city was capable of accommodating 20.000 inhabitants
for many centuries. The city stayed hidden under the ground until 1968.
The founders of this deep settlement place were thought to be Hittites.
Only eight floors have survived until now but it is estimated that there
are many other floors existing underneath and city is interconnected to
the other subterranean city in the area.
The discovered area of Derinkuyu is about four kilometers square. There is
a vast network of air shafts, water wells, water tanks at the bottom and
various access tunnels in the city. There are also a vast numbers of
kitchens, living rooms, stores, meeting rooms, cemeteries, churches and
corridors connecting different segments of the city to each other.
Uchisar is 3 km. away from Goreme. It is the highest point of Goreme
district. For those who climb the steps to the top of the Uchisar Castle
we would like to inform you that a perfect view is waiting for you.
In the old ages it is believed that people were not burying their dead as
a part of their tradition. Instead they were tying them to the highest
places in the region so that eagles came and eat their dead body's. When
only the skeletons were left they were taking them to their churches to
bury them. If you climb to the top of the castle you would also be able to
see the places where they used to hang up the dead bodies.
Devrent Fairies Valley
Four kilometers north of Urgup is the wonderful Devrent Fairies Valley,
where the weather has eroded the stone into peaks, cones and obelisks
called fairy chimneys. The most interesting of all in this valley is a
fairy chimney in a "camel" shape.
The restaurants in the region were usually carved inside the fairy
chimneys which is hot during winter and cool during summer. The
environment in these restaurants makes your meal even more delicious. You
should not leave the region before visiting these restaurants. During the
tour of the tourism ministry, Urgup Mayor Bekir Odemis hosted a delicious
dinner and a well organized Turkish night in the Karakus Restaurant for
the ambassadors in Turkey.
Balloon tours in Cappadocia became famous in the last days. If you are
interested in seeing all these beauties from above together with the
sunrise, TDN suggests that you should wake up early in the morning and
have a Hot-Air Balloon tour over and through the valleys of Cappadocia.
The balloon company in Cappadocia offers their passengers a safe and
professional journey as well as a unique insight into the hidden places of
this historic region.
Ankara - Turkish Daily News