One of those regions we often see on social media is Cappadocia, where it’s impossible not to ask if it’s just a hype and the reality is that high expectations will be met. But don’t worry, you’ll live much longer – on the Cappadocian soil, above, but also below. Our collaborator was there and here is what he saw …
Cappadocia is located in central Anatolia, inland Turkey, 200 km northeast of the Turkish capital Ankara. In the Hittite language, the name of this region means “land of beautiful horses”, and because of its role in the development of early Christianity, it is also called the cradle or “land of saints” of Christianity. It was the birthplace of the famous Christian saints St. George and St. Gregory.
A landscape in a story
Cappadocia is one of three extinct volcanoes: Erciyes, Guldag and Hasandag. Strong volcanic eruptions and the release of lava in this region for over a million years, along with strong winds and heavy rains, have led to the creation of amazing natural phenomena made of white volcanic ash stone structures called tuff. Thus, the famous fairy chimneys, mushroom-shaped chimneys or white stone towers were created. The largest of the columns is over 40 meters high and has one or more blocks of stone at the top, such as basalt hats, which prevent the erosion of softer rocks at the base of the columns.
The ancient inhabitants of Cappadocia, using the most primitive tools, carved soft stones and thus built their houses, churches, monasteries and shelters. More than 600 Christian churches and monasteries were found in 38 underground cities and volcanic ash rocks. It is estimated that there are about 200 cities underground. The most important underground cities are Derinkuyu, Ozkona and Kajmakli, with a large population of between 20,000 and 40,000.
Derniku, Ozkonak and Kajmakli underground cities
Derinkuju (Deep source) Is one of the largest underground cities in Cappadocia, discovered in 1963. It is made up of 18 floors that are 85 meters deep and has a surface area of four square kilometers. The city is hidden behind a large circular stone that covers the entrance, and each floor can be closed in the same way. This may have been the first city built by the Phrygians in Cappadocia, the Indo-European peoples who built similar underground cities in a smooth volcanic rock in the eighth and seventh centuries. In Byzantine times, the city served as a refuge for Roman and Arab Christians. It had many rooms that allowed the normal life of the population: bedrooms, kitchens, personal hygiene rooms, shops, food storage, cattle storage rooms, city school, and several smaller study rooms around them and the deepest while it was on the top floor. a church in a cross-shaped room. In 1965, eight levels of this underground city were opened to visitors. Derinku had a well-developed water supply system thanks to the city’s underground water supply, and a 52-hole ventilation system for this purpose.
Ozkonak It is an underground city 12 km north of Avanos, discovered in 1972 by the Imam of Latif Acar while working in his garden. This underground city has a flow of the river that divides it into three parts. A part of the 4 km long river is 30 m below the ground, while in a part of the river there is an old settlement. In most underground cities, a large circular stone gate was used to enclose the passage from the outside in underground tunnels. That was not the case with Ozkonak. There, in the underground caves, a circular stone block weighing 500 kg, 170 cm high and 60 cm wide was carved.
Underground city Kajmakli It dates back to 3000 BC, south of Nevsehir, below Kajmaklı Castle. It is one of the second largest underground cities in Cappadocia. Kajmaklı has a network of tunnels and rooms on eight underground levels, but currently only four levels are open to visitors. The first floor once served as a barn, while on other levels there are also residences, churches and tombs. In the early 2000s, archaeologists discovered a 9 km tunnel connecting the two largest underground cities, Derinkuyu and Kajmakli. The tunnel was later closed to visitors as collapsed limestone rocks collapsed.
Goreme Open Air Museum
The most famous places in Cappadocia are Nevsehir, Urgup, Avanos and Goreme.
This time we have chosen to present it to you Goreme, A town of about 2,500 inhabitants. In its immediate vicinity is a landscape with fairy chimneys, as well as several underground cities.
Goreme is known for its open-air museum, a large group of Christian churches buried in rock formations, where many frescoes were found, some of the finest works of early Christian art. The Goreme Museum, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985, was used as a necropolis by the inhabitants of Venice (Avanos) during Roman times. Ko IV. and XIII. There was a monastery between the 13th and 14th centuries, and its entire location is dotted with churches carved in soft rock and decorated with biblical scenes, numerous murals and ornaments, and early Christian frescoes. It is also the place where St. Basil the Great and his brothers united their ideas about Christianity. The churches of Durmuş Kadir, Yusuf Koç, El Nazar, Saklı, Meryem Ana (Virgin Mary) and Kılıçlar have a magical effect on visitors. Tokalı Church (Buckle Church), Monastery of the Friars and Nuns, St. Basil’s Chapel and St. Barbara’s Church, Elmalı Kilise (Apple Church), Yılanlı Kilise (Snake Church), Karanlık Kilise (Dark Church) and Dark Church Sandals) as they were built today. it seems intense.
The two most important buildings inside the museum Göreme The Dark (Karanlık) Church and the Tokalı (Voted) Church. Dark Churches (Karanlık), XI. It was founded in the late 12th and early 12th centuries, due to its very dark interior and lack of light due to its small windows. However, although there was no light, the frescoes in the church managed to resist the relentless nature of the time. The church and the narthex have vivid and spectacular images of the Bible. Tokali Church, which is divided into four parts and has two levels, is an old and new church, with striking imported lapis lazuli stone ornaments.
Many of the houses on the rocks above have been converted into boarding houses and luxury hotels, which are especially interesting for tourists who can enjoy unusual accommodation and a rich menu.
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Don’t miss: The balloon
Traveling around the globe is a unique attraction for all tourists and the most effective way to get to know the natural panorama and beauty of Cappadocia. It all started in 1989 when the famous Robinson Lodge hotel chain imported two balloons to Cappadocia for personal promotion. A year later, the Turkish government banned foreigners from making balloons. Shortly afterwards, the two balloon pilots, together with a private investor, formed the first private balloon company, offering services to all interested tourists. Over time, more and more people are interested in flying balloons, and more and more such companies are opening up. Today, there are 27 private companies in Cappadocia that offer balloon service, and over time, it has been organized by the state, now the most popular tourist attraction in Cappadocia. If you want to experience a balloon flight in Cappadocia, you must contact one of the agencies that will arrange the transport to the place of departure, by plane, and after landing you will receive a medal or a personalized certificate. In addition, such companies also offer a guide, which you can use to install and prepare air balloons. The balloon flight takes about 60 minutes, depending on the company you are flying to, it can take about 160 balloons at a time, which is a unique experience for all tourists.
PR / Embassy of the Republic of Turkey; Jelena Jahura