Once upon a time in Cappadocia…
The name Cappadocia itself dates back to 500BC from the Persian language and translates to Land of the Beautiful Horses.
The exceedingly strange and beautiful landscape has been 60 million years in the making. Pre-historic volcanic eruptions, followed by centuries exposed to the elements, have created rock formations unlike any other.
Such an extensive history, coupled with the fairytale landscape, has served to fascinate mankind, who has bestowed Cappadocia and the surrounding Goreme Valley with numerous myths and legends.
Early Christian hermits were attracted to the area and built monasteries right into the rock formations. Investigating dozens of these ancient structures and underground cities is an exercise in fascination and beauty.
Local tradition has it that the Goreme Valley houses more than 350 churches – almost one for every day of the year. From tiny places of worship to enormous cathedral style structures, each has its own unique story.
From a distance, there is little clue as to the historical and religious treasure trove awaiting the explorer. Small openings lead to magnificent churches and monasteries carved deep into the tufa (volcanic ash-rock).
Illustrations on the walls are of enormous religious significance and depict events from biblical times. Hundreds of years have taken their toll, but each illustration is a marvel. The Goreme Valley is the birthplace of the Cappadocian style of painting.
The characteristic feature of the landscape is the incredible fairy chimney. These extremely unusual rock formations were thought, in past times, to house fairies, capable of casting evil spells. Of course the chimney phenomenon is actually better explained by the reaction to erosion by various types of rock.
Cappadocia and the surrounding Goreme Valley deserve at least three days exploration. One could be excused for thinking they had happened upon another planet, given the landscape.
In fact, it is just another Turkish delight.