Cappadocia is the place where the nature and history come together with a beautiful scene in the world. While geographic events are forming Fairy Chimneys (Peribacaları), during the historical period, human carried the signs of thousand years old civilizations with carving houses and churches within these earth pillars and decorating them with frescoes.
Ancient geographer Strabon, describes the borders of the Cappadocia Region, in his 17 volume book ” Geographika” (Geography-Anatolia XII. XIII, XIV) written during the time of Roman Emperor Augustus. Cappadocia was described as a very large area surrounded by Taurus Mountains in the south, by Aksaray in the west, Malatya in the east and all the way up to the Black Sea coast in the north. Today, Cappadocia is the area covered by the city provinces of Nevsehir, Aksaray, Nigde, Kayseri and Kırşehir. Today, the smaller rocky region of Cappadocia is the area consists of Uchisar, Goreme, Avanos, Urgup, Derinkuyu, Kaymakli and Ihlara.
Mount Erciyes, Hasandağ and Göllüdağ were active volcanoes in the geological periods. Alongside with many other volcanoes, eruptions of these volcanoes started in the Early Miocene (10 million years ago) and have continued until the present day. The lava produced by these volcanoes, under the Neoga lakes, constituted a layer of tufa on the plateaus which wearied in hardness and was between 100 and 150m thick. Other substances in the layer are ignimbrite, soft tufa, lahars, ashes, clay, sandstone, marl, basalt and other agglomerates. Plateaus, having been essentially shaped with the lava of the bigger volcanoes, were continuously changed by the eruptions of smaller volcanoes. Starting in the Early Pliocene Period, the rivers in the area, especially Kızılırmak (Halys) and local lakes contributed to the erosion of this layer of tufa stone, eventually giving the aerialist present day shape.
Cappadocia was also one of the important places for early Christianity in Anatolia. The Basil the Great (330-79), the Head Saint of the Christians of Cappadocia, discovered for himself a peaceful, secluded and a quite fertile and well-watered site. He founded a way of life in Cappadocia similar to that led in the monasteries he visited in Egypt and Syria, which was based on the principle of commonality. Numerous churches (in Zelve, Cavusin, Urgup, Goreme, Avanos, the Belisirma valley, Avcilar, Uchisar and Ortahisar) were built and the walls were decorated with paintings and frescoes depicting the life of Jesus or the saints Basileios and Gregorios.
The hidden valleys constituted a refuge for the early Christians who escaped from oppressions and death. Both the harsh climate and continuous threat of attack by enemies made safety a primary consideration for communities of these early times, and Cappadocia’s underground cities provided this as well as warmth and shelter. Cappadocia, from Hittites, Phrygians and Persians to the early Christians has been dwelt by so many civilizations. Its underground cities, rock-hewn churches and monasteries with their fresco paintings are among the most spectacular sights of Cappadocia today.
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