A section cropped from the
photo above shows a couple sitting on the lower balcony below
The lounge area inside a cave house
A bar and a drinks machine in the cave house - Cheers!
A Chimney View
Cappadocia - kapadokya
Cappadocia, Turkey - Land of Wonders
Article - Stan Trof
Photography - Bryan Quinn
Humans first set foot in the region about 10,000 years ago. Then, from
3,500 to 1,200 BC Cappadocia was a part of a powerful Hittite state.
Phrygians took over the administration in the 8th century BC. Five
hundred years later they were replaced by Persians. Alexander the Great
occupied the territory in 333 BC. Cappadocia's past history includes
being a Roman state, a part of the Byzantine Empire, a place where many
early Christian saints including St.Paul found a shelter, where they
lived and taught. Finally, Cappadocia has become a noticable region of
modern Turkey with predominant importance of agriculture and tourism.
WHAT TO SEE AND WHERE: Fairy Chimneys were created as a result of wind
and water erosion when small harder pieces of rock remained on top of
larger and softer rock columns. This out-of-this-world landscape
impressed George Lucas so much that his original plan was to shoot some
Star Wars' episodes in this area. Located in a spectacular valley
between towns of Nevseshir and Urgup there are very different,
interesting fairy chimneys. UNESCO declared the area a World Heritage
Site. Some of the fairy chimneys have been inhabited for many years,
with rooms, windows and staircases being laboriously curved inside
creating up to 5-storey structures inside. Today some of these are also
providing services to tourism as pensions. The largest of 36 underground
cities in the area is at Derinkuyu. It is at a distance of 29 km from
Nevsehir, the provincial center of 7,000 people. Derinkuyu underground
city is located under a hill, was found by chance and opened to the
public in 1965. It covers a 4 square km area and was calculated as able
to shelter 2,000 households on 7 floors beneath the surface, reaching a
depth of 70 to 85 meters.
Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia
Archaeologists tend to believe that the Hittites were the starters of
the underground communities
which in the 6th and 7th were expanded by
early Christians into a very extensive complexes with air shafts,
kitchens, living quarters, churches, water wells, horse stables and wine
cellars. These elaborate subterranean systems were used by the people
who had accepted Christianity against their enemies both as a shelter
and as a safe place to carry out their worship.
Rooms in the Underground City
Next largest underground
city is at Kaymakly, 20 km from Nevsehir. Despite of the fact that only
four underground levels have been excavated, there are speculations that
there can be as many as 11 in total. There is also a tunnel that
connects the underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu (9 km long!)
that has a width of over 2 meters, but unfortunately it is not opened to
the public as parts of the tunnel have collapsed.
Old Dwellings built into the rock
Among other significant underground
communities in the region we should mention the underground monastery of
Ozkonak and the Tatlarin underground city with existing Christian
frescoes. Rock cut Christian churches. It is estimated that over 400
Christian churches, chapels and monasteries were built in Cappadocia
during the Byzantine period until the 13th century. Most of them were
hollowed out in fairy chimneys, hills and in underground caves. The
Tokali church is the largest one in the region, it was built in the
beginning of the 10th century. Decorated with a cycle containing the
life of Jesus, it is located right in the town of Goreme. The Karanlik
church, also located in Goreme is among best preserved in Cappadocia
with lively paintings depicting the consecration of Jesus, the Last
Supper, the Crucifixion and the apostles. The Eskigumus rock cut
monastery (close to the town of Nigde) is the only one where you can see
a fresco with smiling Virgin Mary.
Recent discovery of the monastery in 1963 allowed it to escape vandalism
to which many of the Cappadocian churches and monasteries were
subjected. Well-preserved wall paintings decorate the spacious main
church are known to be one of the best examples of the Byzantine art in
all of Cappadocia.
Other attractions in the area include but not limited to:
- museums in Aksaray, Nevsehir, Goreme, Nigde, Kayseri;
- fortress of Ortahisar, the spectacular Devrent Valley;
- Seljuk history relics such as Karatay Madrasah, many mosques and
caravansaries in Konya;
- hot springs in Nar-Golu and Guzelyurt where also one of the oldest
existing churches in the area- Kizil Kilise (Red Church) is located, a
6th century artefact;
- mountain climbing and mountain skiing at the Erciyes Dagi mountain
(3916m above sea level);
- hot air ballooning.
WHEN TO GO: Cappadocia has a steppe climate, there is a great
temperature difference between day and night. The average temperature is
+23 deg.C (73 F) in summer and -2 deg.C (28 F) in winter. It is cooler
and drier than in the popular tourist areas of the Mediterranean and the
Aegean coasts. April to middle of June and September-October are the
best months to visit.
GETTING THERE: Ankara, the Turkey's capital city is only 350km away. You
will find all necessary local contact phone numbers, price quotes and
dining recommendations by following these links: Goreme - Nevsehir.
Tours to Cappadocia are offered by almost all travel agencies in Turkey,
although they are all too short allowing you just enough time for brief
sightseeing. Tour guides tend to spend too much of your time at local
pottery and carpet shops. We recommend you to rent a car in Ankara
(usually $ 75-100 USD/day) and drive to Cappadocia on your own, or put
together a little group and hire a minivan
together with a local
driver/travel guide (a car and driver would cost you $85- 135 USD/day).
TRAVEL TIPS: Local travel books, information booklets are available on
the spot in Cappadocia's towns. If travelling on your own, a detailed
road map would definitely be a must to buy before leaving home. Modest
clothes are suggested for women. The rural Turkey's culture is
conservative and immodest clothing (short skirts, shorts, tight
clothing) can invite unwanted attention. Do not forget a sun hat, sun
protecting lotion, comfortable shoes. Plan ahead to spend at least two
full days in the area.
The Village Cave Hotel in Cappadocia
The bedrooms are basic but absolutely
charming, so we have given
the Village Cave Hotel a 5 stone rating.