Cappadocia

I’ve been meaning to write this blog about the second part of our trip to Turkey for a while now, but it is such a daunting task to try and capture all that we saw and experienced in this one place on a blog post. Even now, thinking back to our couple of days in Cappadocia, it is amazing how much we saw and how much we learned about a place that we did not even knew existed until we started researching Turkey as a travel destination.

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.







Sitting in my living room six months ago and discussing my ‘travel bucket list’, Cappadocia would not have been on it; in fact I had encountered the word in only one place before, and that is in an epistle of Paul in the Bible. Now, afterwards, it is easily in the top 10 of my travel memories. Why? In the end I think it’s because the place delivers a triple impact: here, away from European-looking and cosmopolitan Istanbul, you get Turkish food and culture, coupled with the place’s ancient history, coupled with the truly unique natural landscape. Not to mention the hot air ballooning in the area ... but more about that tomorrow!





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