”True self discovery begins where your comfort zone ends.”
As if plucked from a whimsical fairytale and set down upon the stark Anatolian plains, Cappadocia, Turkey is a geological oddity of honeycombed hills and towering boulders of otherworldly beauty. The fantastical topography is matched by the human history here. People have long utilized the region’s soft stone, seeking shelter underground and leaving the countryside scattered with fascinating cavern architecture.
The region of Cappadocia is located in the middle of a once-active volcanic area of central Anatolia. Millions of years ago three of its mountains – Erciyes, Hasandağ and Güllüdağ – were active volcanoes; indeed this activity persisted intermittently at least into the Neolithic period according to the prehistoric paintings.
The volcanic eruptions were so strong that in some places the lava was up to 150m in thickness. Over many millions of years, volcanoes, wind, rain and ice sculpted the region which we now know as Cappadocia. As the landscape was eroded, basalt stones remained and formed conical structures with some reaching as high as 45m.
The local people referred to these unique rock formations ‘chimneys fairy’ a name that has endured throughout the ages. If nature was the first artist to arrange the decor, it was Anatolian man who carved the rock and built houses, churches and over 250 underground cities out of it over the centuries.
It is said that there are around 500 churches and chapels in Cappadocia. The variety and artistry of their architecture, layout and decoration are fascinating and amazing. Basilicas with single, double or triple naves, cruciform plans, vestibules, aisles, apses, domes, columns, pillars and more – can be found in these churches, with all having been hollowed out of stone. Many of the churches are also decorated with painstakingly-painted frescoes. The monumental task of restoring, repairing and maintaining these churches and underground cities goes on even while they receive thousands of visitors a year.
Prepare yourself to take a brief journey into the Cappadocia region, where Mother Nature painstakingly worked miracles that defy the imagination and where the living elements of history, culture, art and society are inextricably linked. A visit to Cappadocia is highly recommended for those who want to bathe in its atmosphere, colors and luminance.
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