Cappadocia is a very rich agricultural region, as its mineral-rich soil provides excellent ground for growing of fruits and vegetables. And as if the fantastic topography isn’t good enough, the history behind them is also very intriguing.
Volcanic eruptions centuries ago left the region covered in thick ash, which later solidified into soft rock called ‘tuff’. Gradually, the natural forces of water and wind eroded away the land, leaving behind only the hard rocks. These hard rocks, stretching up to as far as 130 feet in the sky, are what came to be known as the fairy chimneys.
During the persecution of the Christians by Rome, the Christians were forced to flee to Cappadocia to seek shelter.
They soon came to realise that the tuff there was a very soft and malleable material. This realisation led to the excavation of the land, and they built a network of underground living quarters, churches, stables etc. Gradually, this led to the formation of entire underground cities that could accommodate thousands of people. However, it is believed that this system of carving out dwellings from the soft volcanic rocks here were present much earlier, during the Hittite era as well.
The Göreme Valley was inhabited as early as the Hittite era, around 1200 BC and found itself dangerously sandwiched between rival empires at two distinct periods especially, first the Greeks and the Persians and later the Byzantine Greeks and a number of other rivals. This meant that the inhabitants had to search for hiding places, and soon they found shelter by digging tunnels into the soft rock here. Some of Göreme’s troglodyte dwellings have been converted into museums, some into restaurants and hotels, while some still serve as dwelling place for the locals.
For unforgettable panoramic views of the Göreme Valley tourists often take a ride on the hot air balloon. There are many local travel agencies providing the services. There are options of various time durations to choose from.
The Underground Cities
While the Göreme Open-Air Museum with frescos-filled rock-cut churches is a beautiful sight, the subterranean shelter towns of Derinkuyu and KaymaklÄ± are places not to be missed either. The hiding places during persecution or attacks are now tourist attractions of great archaeological importance. There are a number of subterranean cities in the Cappadocia region. More than 200 underground cities having at least two levels have been discovered so far in the region between Kayseri and NevÅŸehir. About 40 among these have three or more levels. Out of these, the following are a must-visit if one is going to Turkey.
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