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About Cappadocia

Cappadocia (Kapadokya) is a region of exceptional interest, because of the fantastic and almost unreal character of its landscapes, because of its history and because of the way of life of its populations. Cappadocia covers a triangle area between Kayseri, Nigde and Nevsehir where two volcanoes, the Erciyes Dag (Mount Argaeus) and the Hasan Dag reach 3916m /12,850 ft and 3268m / 10,720 ft at their highest point. Cappadocia is a vast tuff plateau which relief has been ragged by thousand million years of erosion: wind, rain water and snow have sculpted this unique scenery with canyons and fairy chimneys (Peribacalari) which are soft conical formations with hard basalt caps that defy the laws of balance... Troglodytism which has been a way of living for centuries, can be seen everywhere: cave-dwellings, caves, pigeon houses, churches, monasteries. Cappadocia has been declared by the UNESCO to be one of the Eminent Cultural Heritages of the World.

Assyrian, Hittite and Persian domination succeeded to one another until Alexander the Great came to Asia Minor. The kingdom of Cappadocia was founded, but the native rulers joined Rome in the 1C BC. The penetration of Christianity came early with St Paul who passed through Caesarea (Kayseri). Later in 396, its annexation to the Eastern Roman Empire favoured the complete conversion of the region to Christianity. In spite of the Arab invasions, local populations remained faithful to Christianity and kept close contacts with Byzance. Many religious communities and monasteries developed in remote places of retreat where they could lead an ascetic life. Men used the geological formations to shelter their churches and monasteries. The hermits prefered to distance themselves from the world by cutting into remote cones or fairy chimneys.

Beautiful early-Christian and Byzantine frescoes reveal their sacred art and the succession of the "iconoclastic" and "iconographic" periods. The apogée of Christian Cappadocia took place approximately between 915 and 1065. After the arrival of the Seljuk Turks in the 12th century, lots of mosques, caravanserais and other monuments rose in the region which entered a period of economic prosperity. Under the Ottomans, the region became very peaceful, but arts and trade declined. The monasteries were abandoned but a Christian population continued to live here until 1923, when the exchange of populations took place between Greece and Turkey. In addition to the usual visits, Cappadocia offers opportunities for hiking, horse or donkey and mountain-bike riding. It is highly recommended to experience a hot-air balloon trip that will take you for a breathtaking flight over the lunar-shaped landscapes of Cappadocia.

Agzikarahan is one of the most interesting 12C Seljuk caravanserai which has thick walls reinforced with towers.

Ephesus was also home for the philosopher Heraclitus who lived in the 6C BC.

Nevsehir is the county-town of the region. Grand vizier Damat Ibrahim Pasha of the Tulip Period (Lâle Devri beginning of the 18C), embellished his birth place, at the time called Muskara, with the Kursunlu Mosque ("the mosque covered with lead"), with a medrese, hans and hammams. Since then the place has been called Nevsehir which means "new town". A Byzantine fortress restored by the Seljuks and the Ottomans, overlooks the city. The local museum has interesting Archaeoligical and ethnographical sections.

North of Nevsehir, outside Gülsehir is a place called "Açik Saray" which means the "open palace" and which in fact was a cave-village with rock-cut dwellings and monasteries probably dating back to the 10 or 11 century. It is preferable to visit the place in the morning when the sun shines on the remarkable facades and the weird-looking formations. The most outstanding historical monument in Gülsehir is the "Külliye" complex built by Kara Vezir Pasa in 1779 in the Ottoman Baroque style. It consists of a mosque, a medrese and fountain.

North of Gülsehir is Hacibektas, famous through mystic Haci Bektas Veli who is the founder of the Order of the Bektasi Dervishes. The Convent has become the place of pilgrimage of Alevi Islam. Every year between 16-18 August, ten of thousands of people from communities which follow the teachings of Haci Bektas Veli attend the commemoration ceremonies. Conferences, exhibitions, bard contests, "semah" rituals, concerts are organized during this Festival. The Tomb of Haci Bektas Veli is situated in the "Pirevi" (the House of the Founder) inside the "Külliye" complex which has been transformed into the Haci Bektas-i Veli Museum.

Ortahisar

Ortahisar which means "the fortress in the middle" is a picturesque town built around a huge tufa rock with numerous openings . Because of erosion, external walls have collapsed showing the rooms carved inside.

Uçhisar: in spite of its different shapes, this tufa rock resembles Ortahisar with which it formed a defensive chain of natural fortresses. From the top (60m/200 ft) there is a beautiful panorama over the town and neighborhood, as well as the Valley of the Pigeon Houses.




Göreme is an open-air museum. A religious community used to live in this valley. Monks carved churches and monastic buildings out of the rocks.The splendid decoration painted by artists adds to the picturesque architectural decoration. The churches which can be seen there date back to the second half of the 9th century and afterwards, and frescoes were painted around the 11th century.





Tokalı Kilise the Church of the Buckle,composed of the Old Chapel and the New Church, has the most spectacular frescoes.













Karanlık Kilise "the Dark Church" was part of a monastery and has an interesting refectory.





Çarıklı Kilise" the Church of the Sandal" which name derives from a footprint on the ground considered as divine and located below the Ascension fresco.





Barabara Kilisesi "the Church of St Barbara" has a pictorial simplicity with a red dominant color.





Yılanlı Kilise "the Church of the Serpent" where St George and St Theodore are fighting against the evil under the appaearance of a serpent.





El Nazar Kilise is located inside a remote cone.