Cappadocia is unique. The strange rock formations and subterranean dwellings provide unforgettable sets of experiences, memories and photographs. The interesting rock formations, known as "fairy chimneys", have been formed as the result of the erosion of a tufa layer, sculpted by wind and flood water, running down the slopes of the valleys. Water has found its way through the valleys creating cracks and ruptures in the hard rock.
The softer, easily erodable material underneath has been gradually swept away receding the slopes and in this way, conical formations protected with basalt caps have been created.The fairy chimneys with caps, mainly found in the vicinity of Urgup, have a conical shaped body and a boulder on top of it. The cone is constructed from tufa and volcanic ash, while the cap is of hard, more resistant rock such as lahar or ignimbrite. Various types of fairy chimneys are found in Cappadocia. Among these are those with caps, cones, mushroom like forms, columns and pointed rocks.Any time of the year is beautiful here whether walking through the valleys in the summer sun shine or trudging through the snow in winter. .
The towns of Avanos and Nevsehir and the three villages of Goreme, Urgup and Uchisar are all good bases for exploring this region.Accommodation and food are cheap (as is the locally produced wine) and many people, especially backpackers, enjoy the laid back and friendly atmosphere. You can walk, cycle, taxi or even bus around this area or book a guided tour with one of the many tour operators. Better still a balloon trip across the famous fairy chimneys and valleys is an experience of a lifetime.
We spent our first year in Avanos which lies 18km to the northeast of Nevsehir. The main economic activity in the town is pottery, a craft dating back to the Hittite period. The red clay, which is worked by local craftsmen, comes from the residue in the Kizilirmak river.
Then we moved to Goreme where we stayed for a further 3 years.
Goreme, situated 10 km from Nevsehir, is found in the area surrounded with valleys, within the Nevsehir-Urgup-Avanos triangle. The old names for Goreme are Korama, Matiana, Maccan and Avcilar. Since Goreme was referred as Korama in the earliest written document known from the 6th century, it is thought that that is the oldest name given to the place. In that document, it is said that St. Hieron was born in Korama at the end of the 3rd century, was martyred in Melitene (modern Malatya) with his 30 friends and his hand was cut off and sent to his mother in Korama. A very big depiction of St. Hieron of Korama is found in the Tokali (Buckle) Church in Goreme Open Air Museum.
It is believed that Goreme and its surroundings were used as a necropolis by the people of Avanos in the Roman Periods. Both the monumental twin pillared Roman tomb hollowed out into a fairy chimney in the centre of Goreme and the presence of numerous tombs in the vicinity support that idea.
Goreme was an important Christian centre in the early years of the Middle Ages. Despite the vast number of monasteries, churches and chapels in the vicinity of Goreme, there are not many inscriptions bearing dates. For this reason, these religious buildings are mainly dated according to their architectural features.
So this maybe gives you some idea of what Cappadocia is like. Living there was a wonderful experience, and it's my favourite part of Turkey. I'll talk some more about life in Cappadocia in future posts.