Saturday, June 19, 2010

Turkey: Cappadocia

June 13-15, 2010

Mary and Friends

About Cappadocia(Kapadokya)

No matter how you spell or say it, Cappadocia is a huge area of central Turkey. It reminds me of the Dakotas with its high, dry plains and badlands. Today Cappadocia refers more to the region around the city of Nevsehir. It is a popular tourist area, especially for those interested in early Christianity. Most of the tourists tend to be Germans, Spanish, English, and French.

Geologically this area was covered by deep layers of compressed volcanic ash. This ash can easily be dug out to form rooms, tunnels, and indeed entire underground cities. Early Christians sought refude here to avoid Roman persecution before the Byzantine Emperor, Constance, sanctioned Christianity in 313AD. The monastic movement and consolidation of Christian theology by St Basil, also took place in this area. Turks still live in these carved out rooms, despite the governmental efforts to remove them.

Getting there:

Our generous Antalya hosts provided us with a van and driver. This was a wonderful chance the interior of Turkey and to eat some great grilled food at a roadside stop. About halfway we passed through the city of Konya. All was fine except for what we thought was a four hour drive, turned into a nine hour drive, and a late night arrival into unknown territory. As Turkish hosptality would have it, some local residents drove ahead, leading to our hotel.

High mountains separate the coast from interior plainsView from our hotel in the Cappadocian town of Ergup.

Fairy Chimneys:

The area is marked by many geological oddities caused by the differential erosion of soft volcanic ash and harder rock. The most obvious are Fairy Chimneys where a harder stone on top remains perched as the underlying softer rock is eroded away. Of course over time, the erosion does cause the top rock to fall off leaving a cone shaped structure without its "cap".

Cappadocia today:
For protection, houses originally could not be seen. Erosion has worn away the walls of many to reveal the rooms inside. Modern houses and hotels are now carved into the rock where early Christians once lived.

Town of Uçhisar dominated by a high fortress rock with people living

in hillside hotels and rock homes in the foreground.View from top of Uçhisar fortressAnother view from Uçhisar fortress

Pigeon Valley, some homes have walls eroded, some not

Suburban Cappadocia

Adriana and Mary at site of old monastery with many walls eroded

Underground Cities:

Just how many underground cities existed is unknown. Many were thought to be interconnected by underground tunnels. The steps taken to insure residents from being undetected and surviving for long times without revealing themselves at the surface demonstrates their genius and ingenuity.

A living area
Tunnels, passages, labyrinths everywhere

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