Nevit Dilmen (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)
Cappadocia is a World Heritage Site in Asia Minor in Turkey famous for its rock formations. The name Cappadocia is said to mean "Land of Beautiful Horses". It is now accepted internationally to define the region which is famous for its natural formations called "fairy chimneys", as well as its moonscape and cave dwellings. Cappadocia is also rich in historical and cultural heritage.
It is difficult to accurately definite the limits of Cappadocia. In the olden days, during Herodotus, Cappadocians inhabited the region from Mount Taurus to the Black Sea. Today, Cappadocia corresponds to present-day Nevsehir Province in Turkey. Most visitors enter through the city of Kayseri, which has air and rail connections with Ankara and Istanbul.
Fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, Turkey
© 2001 China Crisis (cc-by-sa=2.0)
Cappadocia is formed by layers of sedimentary rocks from lakes and streams as well as volcanic deposits from 3 to 9 million years ago. The rocks near Göreme have eroded to form the fairy chimneys, towering pillars topped with roof-like formations. As the rocks are quite soft, the people living there carved their homes right into the cliffs. As a result, today visitors can look at the houses, churches, monasteries are are dug into the rocks.
The city of Göreme became an important monastic center from 300-1200 AD. At the Göreme Open Air Museum, tourists can visit the sites of the monastic communities of Cappadocia. The museum complex comprises over 30 rock-carved churches and chapels. On the ceiling are superb, well-preserved frescoes from the 9th to the 11th centuries.
Early Christians constructed several underground cities to escape persecution before Christianity became a legitimate religion. From the Cappadocian region came many leaders of the early Christian church, including John of Cappadocia, who was Patriarch of Constantinople from 517 to 520 AD. During the Byzantine era, Cappadocia remained relatively undisturbed by the surrounding conflicts.
Getting thereGerome is the main town for visitors to Cappadocia. It is linked by bus services to Istanbul (12 hours) and Ankara (5 hours). There are daily flights from Istanbul to Kayseri, about an hour from Gerome. You can also take the train from Istanbul to Kayseri. If you are staying in Gerome, it is possible to explore Cappadocia on foot. Get a hiking map from your hotel showing suggested walks and trails. Hot Air Ballon rides are also available, giving you a birds-eye view of the region.
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