This unique, different enclave of impressive beauty, and which also allows the visitor to get to know the history and culture of a country that has been a crossroads of civilizations and is located between Europe and Asia, it is called Cappadocia and is in the center of Turkey’s Anatolia peninsula.
“Among the most remarkable places in Cappadocia is the Göreme Valley, declared a World Heritage Site, characterized by its valleys, monasteries and rock-hewn chapels decorated with frescoes”Óscar Sanz, commercial director of Mapa Tours, a tour operator with extensive experience in organizing trips in this region, says Efe.
“Other unforgettable places in this region are the Avcilar and Güvercinlik valleys, where the famous “fairy chimneys”; the troglodyte village of Uçhisar and the ancient underground city of Ozkonak”, recalls Sanz (www.mapatours.com).
For this expert, “one of the indelible experiences that one can live in Cappadocia is to take a ride in a hot air balloon at dawn to contemplate the spectacular landscape”.
In addition, “in this area you can also watch a folk dance performance by dervishes or visit the typical carpet workshops and those where they work semi-precious stones such as onyx and precious stones such as turquoise”, he said.
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Some unforgettable places are Göreme, Avcilar and Güvercinlik valleys, the cave village of Uçhisar and the ancient underground city of Ozkonak
In aesthetic terms, Cappadocia touches the soul with its unique rock formations called the “fairy chimneys” and with the architectural imprint of the civilizations it is home to.
Among his incredible formations there are rock churches, underground cities and remains of prehistoric cities, informs Efe Tourism of Turkey, (TT) (www.turismodeturquia.org).
They explain that this region is located in an ancient volcanic area. Moreover, millions of years ago, three of its mountains (Erciyes, Hasandag and Güllüdag) were active volcanoes.
“For millions of years, volcanoes, wind, rain and ice have carved the region we know as Cappadocia. As the landscape eroded, the basalt stones remained, forming the famous “fairy chimneys”, conical structures some of which reach 45 meters in height”, they indicate.
While nature was the first artist to adorn this region, over the centuries people in Anatolia have carved out the rocks and built houses, churches and more than 250 underground cities there, according to TT.
“In the towns of Uçhisar, Göreme, Avanos, Ürgüp, Derinkuyu, Kaymakli and Ihlara the earth has been shaped by nature, giving rise to fantastic forms elegantly adorned with works created by the human hand, giving birth to a charming open-air museum and a cultural heritage of humanity”, he underlines.
“Fairy chimneys that seem mysterious, towns and places of worship that stretch several meters deep, all wrapped in an environment that seems ethereal and otherworldly. Cappadocia offers the visitor a banquet of wonders beyond the most enthusiastic imagination,” TT points out.
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The famous “chimneys” are the pinnacles of the houses that made up the underground cities, where until the last century the Turks lived.
These dwellings were normally four or five storeys connected by stairs, drainage systems, ventilation streams and communal kitchens. Cappadocia is also the colorful and luminous result of a crossroads of civilizations that has taken place over the centuries.
The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with the best examples discovered being at Kösk Höyük in Nigde and Asikli Höyük in Aksaray, as well as Civelek Cave in Nevsehir, according to Turkey Tourism.
In the middle of the Bronze Age, Cappadocia fell under the influence of the Assyrian civilization.
The Hattis, Hittites, Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Seleucids and Ottomans marveled at the beauty of Cappadocia and left traces of their presence in these lands, according to TT.
They point out that, to protect themselves from these incursions, the inhabitants of the region decided to live in caves and caves whose entrance could be hidden so as not to be detected by invaders.
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As it was sometimes necessary to hide for long periods of time, these troglodyte dwellings have become underground cities with springs, food storage places, warehouses and places of worship, they point out.
At the beginning of the first millennium, groups of Christians fleeing Roman persecutions began to move to inaccessible places in Cappadocia in search of refuge, according to TT.
There they found volcanic terrain that was easy to excavate and began to enlarge the natural caves that connect them and to build houses, chapels, churches and monasteries.
It is estimated that there are around 500 churches and chapels in Cappadocia. The variety and artistry of its architecture, design and decoration are fascinating and surprising, says TT.
Elmali Kilise Church stands out, with a large central dome accessed through a narrow corridor, and Tokali Church, with splendid frescoes painted in green and red tones, reports Turkey Tourism.
“The ideal stay to enjoy the beauties of Cappadocia on a first trip would be two or three days, which can then be completed with a stay in the historic city of Istanbul, about 800 kilometers away,” recommends Sanz.
“The best time of year to go to Cappadocia would be in the spring as there are more daylight hours and more pleasant temperatures, although it can be visited throughout the year”, concludes this tourist expert.
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