Cappadocia region is the general area between Hasan Volcano, Erciyes Volcano, Aladaglar Mountain range and river Kizilirmak. It is an ancient name given to this geographical region. Cappadocia has been declared World's Cultural and Natural Heritage by Unesco on 24th November 1986. Its canyons and valleys are both a natural wonder and a home for nearly two thousand years old churches with beatiful wall paintings as the first christian communities as early as only 60 A.D started living in these fantastically shaped valleys as canyons.
The story of these unique landscape goes back to 25 million years when many volcanoes spewed out layers and layers of volcanic material including lava, bazalt, ignimbrite and ash. The incredible amounts of volcanic materials has made the area like a fairy tale land. And the yellow rocks in are all part of fantastic display of the wonders of nature in its surreal landscape.
The history of the region is also very rich. The soft rock structure has made the area ideal for settlements starting from the very early times in history. There are settlements from the prehistoric age in the area but the most interesting part of Cappadocia history is the Roman era and the christian era. Shortly after St. Paul's visit to the area the first christian communities started to form and some of the most important figures in christian history, such as St. Basil who set the rules of monastic life and monastries. St. Gregory and the other saints also lived in the area. The christians had to hide from romans untill 313 AD when christianity was allowed within the borders of East Roman Empire. They used the underground caves left from earlier ages and and successfully turned them into large underground cities.
The vegetation is best in May and September, there may flowers, including irises, crocuses and fritillarias. One of the most important bird areas which is on the migration routes, Sultan Marches is on the east border of Cappadocia region. There are interesting birds that can be observed in The Sultan Marches including flamingoes, egyptian vultures, ibises and many more. There are also many interesting birds species such as nightingales, finches, golden orreals, buzzards and kestrels all around the valleys you may trek in Cappadocia
Other wild life we may encounter are foxes, snakes, gophers (small marmots) and etc.
"Things to do" in Goreme
As Anatolian Houses Team, we would like to give you few tips during your stay in Cappadocia: Below mentioned locations are mostly visited places in the region and quite popular, and please note that these comments and statements were taken from "first hand" narrative of visitors in Goreme !!
Goreme Open Air Museum
Goreme open air museum is just a few minutes walk from our charming hotel. The museum features an entire village of homes that were carved out of the soft volcanic rock in early times. In the first few centuries AD, the first Christians settled here, and hereafter this place soon became a very important religious centre. Most of the caves carved out from the rock have a religious significance, some being churches, others being living quarters or burial sites. Some of these are beautifully decorated with religious wall paintings. With most of the people being illiterate at the time, these paintings served as an important tool for communication between the spreaders of this new Christian faith and their followers. When Christianity had lost most of its power in this region in later days, other people came to settle in the rock caves. Some of these, in fear or in scorn of the influence of these paintings, mutilated the religious figures depicted by scratching away the eyes. According to their beliefs, the eyes were the place from which the soul speaks. Nonetheless, there is one church in the open air museum that was spared this unfortunate fate. The practice of carving out hollow spaces in pillars of soft rock, produced very unstable caves. Apparently, over the ages, some of these caves have collapsed. One of these caves served as a church and was only recovered in more recent times, and thus escaped the damage done to other churches. The museum charges visitors an additional fee to visit this church, but I do recommend you to do this. This place has opened up for the world just recently and it is not difficult to imagine the people that came here thousands of years ago. Don't miss it, this church is absolutely unique in the world.
It's remarkable the immensity and complexity of the caves built by Christians to protect them from their enemies. The airing solutions, the defensive devices, the maze like planning, all justifies the admiration of those who visit the caves.
One of the attractions of Cappadocia are the old Christian churches, built in the soft lava that covered all the region. Now the erosion is advancing and the churches come to daylight, announcing its inevitable disappearing. It hurts, seeing such historical places facing that destiny.
Mustafapasa (Read Mus-ta-fa-pa-sha) is used to be called Sinasos. Its habitants were mainly Greeks until the first quarter of the 20th century. If you are into architecture or photography, it is worthwhile visiting this village. Apart from taking dozens of photos (mainly doors and windows), have a short tour of one of its two wineries and don’t forget to drink your cold beer in the central café.
Off the beaten path
Uchisar Castle is a rocky volcanic outcrop located in the village of Uchisar. The rock is riddled with tunnels and caves. From the top of the rock you have great views of Goreme and Cappadocia. You can also see Mt Erciyes, 3916m high, hovering in the distance. Oddly enough you cannot find information on why the locals dug so many caves into the rock. You can imagine it was for defensive reasons hence the name. It cost $1 to visit the castle which is open from 8am to sunset. Surprisingly it was not difficult to climb up Uchisar Castle and should not pose a problem for most people.
Folk Museum in Ortahisar
This is a private museum with very realistic displays of typical scenes of traditional daily life in Cappadocia. If you are interested in ethnology, you will love this museum. It is a must see for everybody visiting Ortahisar. Its front entrance is through a nicely decorated restaurant owned by the same people. So don't get confused. It is at the same square as the tower of Ortahisar.
One of the more unexpected surprises in Cappadocia is this wonderful rockcut monastery. The Selime Monastery was carved out the rock by Christian monks in the 13th century and located in Ihlara Canyon.. The size of the church makes a visit here astonishing. How did the monks manage to carve such a large complex out rock with such amazing detail. Columns are meticulously carved in huge chambers. The church consists of monk quarters, a large kitchen and even a stable for mules. The walls of the chambers were at onetime adorned with frescos but little of these remain. From the road there is a short but challenging climb up a steep and slippery hill to the monastery itself.
The Agzikarahani Caravan – Serai
The Agzikara Hani is a medieval caravanserais. These where sort of the business hotels of the middle ages and were doted along the Silk Road. The Agzikara Hani actually dates from the 13th century and the complex is very well preserved. It consists of several chambers surrounding a large courtyard. Included is a large hall where the trading was done. Today the Agzikara Hani is still used for trading of sorts. The locals sell rugs to tourists here at the entrance and in the courtyard. The Agzikara Hani is located 16km northeast of Aksaray on the road to Nevsehir. It cost about $1 to enter and it is open from 7:30 am to 8pm daily.