First mentioned in text more than 8,000 years ago, central Turkey’s Cappadocia region has been a major player in world history for eons. Literally. And while it’s predominately Muslim today, Cappadocia has at one time or another been Greek, Roman and Byzantine, a conquest of Alexander the Great and a sanctuary for early Christians.
Encompassing an area of approximately 40,000 square miles Cappadocia is one of the most visually exciting places that I have ever visited. Mile after mile reveals a kaleidoscope of snowcapped mountains, lush fertile valleys and fairy chimneys.
Yep, you read that right… fairy chimneys!
You see, Cappadocia is a desert plateau located at a breathtaking (for a Florida girl) 3,280 feet in close proximity to a volcanic mountain range and that, my friends, has provided Mother Nature with the perfect canvas to do what she does best – sculpting an exquisite work of art.
Using all of the elements within Her power she has whittled away at the soft volcanic rock and created nothing short of magic. Cylindrical- and cone-shaped masterpieces so awe-inspiring, so precarious in their perch, it defies the laws of gravity and enraptures the imagination.
And since we humans are a pretty smart bunch, the people of Cappadocia took their cue from Mother Nature and began carving away at the inside of the fairy chimneys and voila!… instant house or church or village.
One great example is the Goreme Open Air Museum. Here, more than thirty churches have been carved directly into the rocky cliffs most with Byzantine paintings still vibrant and alive. There are also store rooms and communal kitchens, small homes and such, for its close proximity to the Silk Road meant this area was a thriving metropolis in its day.
To protect themselves from attack, ingenious early Christians dug multi-level cities deep into the ground. Fully stocked with provisions (including livestock) and designed in such a way as to be virtually impenetrable these underground cities allowed the locals to live in relative safety while above ground marauders were invading their lands.
Millennia have passed and well… the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The marauders may be gone, but the people of Cappadocia know a good thing when they see it so the whole fairy chimney as a house thing is still very much alive and well. Whole cities carved out of stone complete with labyrinthine streets and impossibly narrow lanes. From the quaint friendly town of Urgup to the continuously inhabited 5,000 year old Ayvali Village this is a place where time moves at a snail’s pace – when it moves at all. It harkens back to a time when life was more… simple… and gentle.
Yes, the Cappadocia area of Turkey is one place that I can’t wait to revisit. You should put it on your bucket list too. If you have the time, a week to 10 days would allow you to lose yourself in the mystical ambiance that is Cappadocia. For a full immersion experience I highly recommend staying in one of the many cave hotels in the area, they come in all shapes and sizes with a price range that fits most budgets.
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