In the middle of Central Anatolia there is a geological oddity of valleys created by the volcanic outbursts of three mountains in the area. Over millions of years erosion by water, wind and changes in temperature fashioned a landscape of remarkable fairy chimneys and honeycombed hills. Because of the softness of the stone, people built underground cities, cave houses and rock-cut churches. Today, many of these caves are converted into boutique hotels and we booked into one of them for our time in Cappadocia.
The human history here is as fascinating as the weird landscape. We visited underground cities built in 2000 BC by the Hittites to escape Persian raiders. These same cities were used again, this time by Christians in the 4th century AD when they tried to escape Roman persecution. The area boasts hundreds of hidden chapels carved into the rocks, many with colourful frescoes, built by the early Christians.
We also visited sleepy ghost towns in the area made infamous by Turkey’s more modern, and extremely fascinating history. Just after Ataturk became President of Modern Turkey in 1920’s , the controversial population exchange between Greece and Turkey took place. Greek speaking communities from Anatolia (and the towns we visited in Cappadocia) were shipped to Greece and Muslim residents from Greece were transferred to Turkey to make a new living in the houses left empty by the departing Greeks.
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