Cappadocia means the land of beautiful horses and has a unique historical and cultural background. The Cappadocia region is generally regarded as the plains and mountain regions of eastern central Anatolia, around the reaches of the River Kizlirmak (Red River), to the Black Sea. Several ancient roads ran through this area, allowing for cross cultural contact. It is this contact that caused the creation of many underground cities to help people forced into religious exile.
The underground cities of Cappadocia have several things in common, including; rooms for food storage, kitchens, stables, wine or oil presses and shafts for ventilation.
Cappadocia’s history dates back to the Bronze age and was the Hittite power centre of Hattusa. There were several exchanges of power, from the Mushki, Assyrians, Phrygians, Lydians and finally the Roman Empire took control of the area. During the Roman and Byzantine rule, Cappadocia became a refuge place for Christians. It is for this reason that Cappadocia contains several underground cities. These cities flourished throughout the 4th and 11th century, when Cappadocia came under attack from Turkmenistan, Arabs, Mongolia, Seljuks and the Ottomans.
Cappadocia slowly lost its importance in Anatolia, until a French Priest rediscovered the churches in 1907. There are many must see locations in Cappadocia including;
Goreme is a small village set amongst ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations in the historical region of Cappadocia in Turkey. 2000 years ago Mount Erciyes erupted, leaving these soft rock formations, covering a 20,000 km² area. In 1985 the Goreme National Park was added to the UESCO World Heritage List. The softer rocks eroded away with the combination of water and wind, leaving only the hard rock on the top.....more info
Uchisar is in the Nevsehir Province of Turkey, 8 kilometres outside of Nevsehir. It’s a quieter location to base yourself when touring the Cappadocia region, being less dominated by tourists. There is a fortress in Uchisar, visible from far away, and is the towns main attraction.....more info
Five kilometres from Avanos, Zelve is located on the slopes of Aktepe. Zelve consists of three separate valley’s and was inhabited until 1952, when it was deemed too dangerous to live in and the inhabitants moved to Yeni Zelve (New Zelve). There is the highest population of fairy chimneys in Zleve, they have particularly sharp points and thick trunks. The pasabagi is a cluster of fairy chimneys, one with three heads.....more info
Avanos is located 18 kilometres from Nevsehir in Turkey and rest son the banks of the the longest river in Turkey, the Kizlirmak, the Red River. The name of the Red River comes from the large amounts of clay deposits, which have been used for centuries in the town for pottery. The pottery trade in Avanos dates back to the Hittites and you can still visit Avanos now and view the workshops in action. Avanos can also be used as a base for visiting the Cappadocia region, for rafting and horse riding.....more info
Ozkonak is located 14 kilometres from Avanos and was discovered in 1972 by a local farmer. This farmer, Latif Acar discovered the underground city when he notice water going missing. The complex is made up of 10 floors, at a depth of 40 metres and it is thought it could house up to 60,000 people.....more info
Nevsehir is the provincial capital and mainly used as a transport hub. The main sources of income for Nevsehir used to be carpet weaving and viticulture, however over the past few years this has rapidly changed, with tourism being the main source of income for the town. Nevsehir is located near many underground cities, the fairy chimneys, monasteries, caravanserais and the famous rock-hewn church of Goreme.....more info
Ortahisar is located 10 kilometres from Nevsehir, with its name originating from a 90 metre high rock, meaning middle fortress. This rock was used by locals for centuries as a castle to protect the population from intruders. Many rooms and tunnels have been constructed inside and the roof is accessible by a staircase. The views from the top are breathtaking, with Cappadocia and the Erciyes Mountain in the background.....more info
Kaymakli is located 19 kilometres outside of Nevsehir and was first opened to tourist in 1964. The village has been completely constructed around the hundreds of tunnels of the underground city. Many of these tunnels are still used to today for storage, as stables and as cellars. These tunnels are low, narrow and very steeply inclined.....more info
Urgup is a town located in the Nevsehir province of Turkey, 20 kilometres from Nevsehir. Urgup is a good place to base your travel in the Cappadocia region, with its array of hotels built into caves, wines and busy nightlife. It was one of the first settlements in the Cappadocia regions. The town has had several different names, including.....more info
Derinkuyu is located in the Nevsehir district of Turkey, 29 kilometres from Nevsehir. First opened in 1969, only 10% of the underground city is open to the public. It is thought that at one time up to 20,000 people lived in Derinkuyu’s 8 levels, extending 85 metres underground, with a possible 3 more levels yet to be excavated. Only 4 of these floors are open to the public, with a 55m circular descending ventilation shaft.....more info
Ihlara Valley a township located in the Aksaray Province of Turkey. Ihlara Valley has a 16 kilometre gorge cut from volcanic rock after eruptions of Mount Erciyes. The Ihlara Valley’s gorge is the unique home to rock carved churches and underground dwellings. With nearly 100 in total, they line both sides of the gorge. The location of these churches and houses, hidden in the rocks, with their easy access to water, made them one of the first places for Christians to seek refuge from the Roman Empire.....more info