Apart from its interesting geological formation, Cappadocia has a place among the world’s rare natural and cultural centres, with its fairy chimneys, the settlements carved into the fairy chimneys, its underground cities, its rock churches and other beautiful elements.
In Cappadocia, which is a region that has been chosen as a settlement by many civilisations, communities of history and of the present have blended with nature and with history. In spite of all the troubles caused by winds, the climate and the natural environment, the lifestyle of the communities has continued throughout history.
The first residents of Cappadocia hunted with weapons they made themselves and fed on wild plants. Because of the harsh and cold weather and also because of the various perils of nature they searched for closed and safe quarters and settled in the first cave or rock shelter, thus putting an end to the nomadic life they were living.
One of he reasons why people settled in Cappadocia is that the tufa rock can be carved and hewn very easily. As a rule, they preferred the steep slopes of valleys and the fairy chimneys, and they carved new dwellings into the rocks as their daily life style required. While the excavation technique remained unchanged for centuries, the marks of pickaxes remain as they are, thanks to the dry climate.
These dwellings that are warm during the winter and cool during the summer are very suitable for daily life. Therefore the lifestyle within these rock dwellings continued through generations, and during the following centuries, they became centres of worship both for monks in seclusion and for colonies living a monastic life. It followed that different styles of architecture appeared in rock churches and monasteries.
The residents of the region stored the food they produced in the area within the shelters they carved into the rock. Even today, a lot of fruit brought from the Mediterranean region is stored in these natural storerooms.
Underground settlements of various sizes, which count among the most interesting cultural treasures of Cappadocia, have been achieved by carving the soft tufa of the slopes of valleys and plateaus vertically and deeply.
Cappadocia, registered as “Göreme National Park of Nature and History” and number 177 in the list of “The World’s Natural and Cultural Heritage”, has a well earned place with its natural structure and its cultural diversity.
All four seasons are beautiful in a different way.
The busy tourism season in Cappadocia begins in May and continues until the beginning of November. Although there are a lot of places to visit, the fact that settlements are quite close makes it a very convenient holiday for visitors who do not have much time.
In Cappadocia, all four seasons offer different beauties to people. Even the winter snow, which covers the fairy chimneys like lace work creates a very extraordinary atmosphere.
The Göreme Open Air Museum counts first among the most visited places of the region. In this museum there is a great number of rock-hewn churches, monasteries and refectories. The Karanlık Church and the Tokalı church are among the most significant of these structures.
One can see the church that has been opened in 1967, monasteries, a mosque, tunnels and rock-hewn homes in the Zelve Open Air Museum. Two kilometres away from this museum, the fairy chimneys of Paşabağ are among the major sights that must absolutely be seen.
For those who wish to do a daily tour, the fortress of Uçhisar should be a starting point. From the top of the fortress one can easily see ancient settlements such as Göreme, Avanos, Çavuşin and Ortahisar. This is also one of the most panoramic points of the region.
Underground cities also are among the most interesting visiting places for both local and foreign tourists. The ones named Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı are the biggest of these and are consequently those which receive the greatest number of visitors. Watching the sunset from Kızılçukur which is situated right across Ortahisar has now become a tradition.
The mosaics of the antique city of Sobessos, discovered only two years ago, the excavation of which is still being continued by the Museum of Nevşehir is one of the last surprises for those visiting Cappadocia.
Cappadocia, renowned for its pottery and of course for its wine, is a region to which every visitor wishes to return again and again.