x0x CAPPADOCIA UNDER SNOW
- [For more on Cappadocia take a look at the pages on http://travel.to/sunholiday
"Cappadocia is the second home of Wrights"
"An interesting travel report on Turkey. Beautiful pictures!"
"Travel experiences of Petter Andersen of Norway"
"Peter Riggs photographic journey of Turkey" ]
x0x CAPPADOCIA UNDER SNOW
By Faruk Urundul
Under a white carpet of snow Cappadocia is, if possible, even more
beautiful. Wandering through Guvercinlik Valley with its stone spires
or climbing the icebound steps of Uchisar Castle, you feel as if you
have come to a magical winter wonderland. In the still cold air you
can see your breath and hear the whisper of falling snowflakes. Snow
erases all unnecessary details and colours from the landscape,
revealing it with unequalled clarity.
The name Cappadocia derives from the Persian Katpatukya, meaning Land
of Beautiful Horses. The region lies at the heart of Asia Minor, in a
triangle formed by the towns of Nevsehir, Urgup and Avanos, and its
history is as fascinating as its scenery.
The story of Cappadocia can be traced far back in geological time to
when the now extinct volcanos of Erciyes, Hasandagi and Golludag were
still erupting, burying the plateau beneath lava and volcanic ash. For
8 million years the Kizilirmak and other rivers and streams eroded the
tuff and basalt rock layers, sculpting this strange and fantastic
landscape. In prehistoric times weary tribes seeking a place to settle
made their homes in the caves of Cappadocia. Subsequently the
inhabitants discovered that the soft tuff was easily carved out, and
in the 7th and 8th centry's BC began to create the first underground
Even in the bitter cold of midwinter these underground passages and
chambers are warm, and you wonder whether Cappadocia would not be the
best place to spend the winter.
Both the harsh climate and incessant threat of attack by enemies made
safety a primary consideration for communities of these early times,
and Cappadocia's underground cities provided this as well as warmth
and shelter. The Hittites, Phrygians and Persians came and went, and
then came the early Christians fleeing persecution, whose rock-hewn
churches and monasteries with their fresco paintings are among the
most spectacular sights of Cappadocia today.
The first European travellers to explore Cappadocia from the 18th
century onwards were astonished by its geographic and historic sights.
Paul Lucas, Charles Texier and Ainsworth all noted in their diaries
the impossibility of words to describe this extraordinary place. They
likened the rock towers to priests wearing caps, to the Virgin Mary
holding the infant Christ on her lap, to lions and birds. You too can
join in this game as you explore the weird rock formations in the
valleys of Cappadocia. But instead of being carried away by the
romanticism of the snowy landscape and seeking the lost silhouettes of
old loves, open your heart to the story of water, soil and human
As the snow falls outside, imagine Assyrian and Hittite craftsmen
making pottery, just as the potters of Avanos do on their wheels
today, doves and pigeons huddling together for warmth in the shelter
of the ancient dovecotes during the winter, a caravan wending its
weary way along this last section of the Silk Road, the early
Christians painting frescoes on the walls of their churches, the
Seljuks seeking safety here from the Mongol incursions, and children
bored of confinement in the narrow passages of the underground cities
begging their parents to let them go out and play snowballs, and the
excitement with which they must have run through the dark passages
smelling of lamp oil and soot towards the light at the entrance.
After a few snowy winter days Cappadocia, you will see even the earth
and water differently from before. The crisp white flavour of life and
exuberance of nature will permeate your being, and you will realise
that you are a small, but precious and indispensable part of humany'ss
challenging and exciting story.
* Faruk Urundul is a photographer