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Cappadocia is the ancient and modern name of a remarkable region in Central Anatolia. It is a geological wonderland which is a smaller triangular area from Urgup to Avanos and to Uchisar. The settlements in Cappadocia had come into existence, mostly in the valleys of Goreme, Ihlara and Soganli. The most intensive settlement was in the vicinity of the township of Goreme. It is possible to see many churches together today in the locality made into an open air museum. It is estimated that there are more than 600 rock-cut churches in Cappadocia. During the early times of the spread of Christianity, the people who needed to hide themselves from the Roman soldiers and later on from Arab raids, carved out these tough rocks thus constructing churches and built underground cities to defend themselves against the raids. The tough rocks, formed by the lava spurted by 3 volcanoes during geological times, had kept on taking constantly changing shapes with kind effects during the course of time, and the wonders of the world of today were created. This juxtaposition of different materials has producedcapped columns, pyramids and conical formations with dark-colored caps known as fairy-chimneys.
Below is the most famous areas in Cappadocia that is visited by most of our guests:
The people who adopted to live a lonely life of seclusion as hermits, formed an important social group despite the fact that they had nothing to do with the churches and monasteries. These people didn’t even work to meet their basic needs; they received the basic necessities from the people and themonasteries that respected them.
By the end of the 2nd century a large Christian community had formed in Cappadocia. It is known that there were two bishoprics at that time; one in Kayseri, which, for a long time, continued to be a Christian center in the region and the other in Malatya.
In the 3rd century, priests with good character changed the region into a lively centre of Christian activity. In the 4th century Cappadocia became known as the land of the three saints; The Great St. Basil (329-379), Bishop of Kayseri; his brother St. Gregory of Nyssa,(335-394) and St. George of Nazianus (329-394). These three saints are the main reasons for Cappadocia to be a Christian Center after 4th century.
The one nave barrel vaulted plan common for Goreme Open Air Museum’s churches was the most convenient architectural style for the religious communities and those living in seclusion in the area. These buildings were also seen as very suitable areas for graves and there are many graves next to or inside the churches in the museum.
Kaymakli Underground City
Kaymaklı Underground City is one of the most famous of the Cappadocia underground cities out of 34 of them. Built by early Christians to protect themselves from the religious persecution of Roman Soldiers, Kaymaklı Underground City is an elaboratemaze of tunnels, caves and is the second widest of the underground cities.
Like all of the underground cities, the most impressive aspect of the Kaymaklı Underground City is the organised, structured and very well thought nature of the entire city. It had everything from living quarters, sleeping rooms, stables and communal kitchens to a church and a graveyard as well as being well fortified to protect its inhabitants. Kaymaklı Underground City also has an inordinate number of storage rooms.
Kaymaklı Underground City is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985. The city was opened to visitors in 1964 although only 4 of the 8 levels are accessible. The city is arranged around the ventilation shafts which bring air. The city is visited by over one million people every year and it still keeps some mysteries to be sorted out as there is no inscriptions.
The underground city at Derinkuyu has all the usual amenities found in other underground complexes in Cappadocia, such aswineries, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, and churches. There is also a unique room in Derinkuyu underground City in the second level that was used as a religious school. There is a huge tunnel about 100 meters between the third ad fourth levels which leads to leads to a cruciform church on the lowest level. Derinkuyu is the largest excavated underground city in Turkey. The complex has a total 7 floors, though many floors have not been excavated. It has an area of 2,000 square feet, with a possible total area of 7,000 square feet (650 m2). Each floor could be closed off separately. The city was connected with other underground cities through miles of long tunnels. The city could accommodate between 5,000 and 8,000 people.
Ihlara Valley constituted an important religious center during the first years of the spread of Christianity. The natural protection provided by the Ihlara Valley made it an important base for Christianity. The valley became a center for monasteries from the 4th century on, and housed many churches decorated with frescoes and paintings. The churches of which founders are known are of special importance for the scientific community, since it is very difficult to determine the exact construction dates of the churches in this valley. The churches with one or two naves carved into rocks, which were built on closed Greek cross plans or free cross plans, are lining up along both sides of the Melendiz Stream, on the steep slopes of the valley. Thanks to its natural features, the Ihlara Valley was used as a place for solitude by hermits and priests from the 4th century on. Christianity had begun to spread among people speaking different languages. Low rates of literacy and the unpopularity of the Latin language had made the spread of this religion difficult. Thus, in order to spread Christianity, the life of Jesus Christ, the themes in the Bible, prominent religious figures and the events related to them were depicted on church walls via frescoes.
In the frescoed churches such as the Sümbüllü (Hyacinth), Yılanlı (Serpent), Kokar (Fragrant), Ağaçaltı (Beneath-a-Tree), Pürenliseki (Platform), Eğritaş (Crooked Stone), Kırkdamaltı (St. George) and Bahattin Samanlığı (Bahattin's Granary), scenes of the Birth of Jesus, Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Visitation, Flight into Egypt and the Last Supper can be seen.
Uchisar Castle is the highest peak in Cappadocia region except the volcanoes and the most prominent land formation. A climb up the 120 steps to the summit of the fortress is a logical introduction to the rocky scapes of Cappadocia. Starting from the 1st century, Romans, Byzantines, Selcuks and Ottomans took advantage of the natural elevation of three of the area's rock formations and used them as natural fortresses. Uchisar, together with Ortahisar and a rock castle at Urgup (now in ruins), provided the means for an early warning system using mirrors and lights, sending messages among the fortresses. Today the outer layers of Uchisar's rock have been washed away by erosion to reveal a honeycombed structure of tunnels and cavities, rising above the man-made facades of the modern semi-troglodyte village. Recently discovered was a secret tunnel leading to the riverbed, which provided an emergency water supply in the event of an attack.
Devrent Valley is also known as Imagination Valley or Pink Valley because of its’ color. The valley does not have cave churches like the other valleys of Cappadocia, but it has incredible lunar landscape with very different fairy chimneys.
Devrent Valley is not a valley that people lived for centuries or been inhabited, so it is not possible to see many cave churches or chapels. You will instead see a lunar landscape and there are many animal shaped rocks that makes you think that you are actually in a zoo. Some of the most important, or the easiest seen animal shapes are camel, snake, seals, and dolphins. It is also possible to find much more interesting shapes depending on your imagination.
Pasabag Valley which was formerly known as “The Monks Valley” is located on the right of the Goreme-Avanos road. This area which is full of peculiar fairy chimneys looks remarkable. Some of the multi-bodied and multi-headed fairy chimneys were carved to construct chapels and sitting areas. In one of the three-headed fairy chimneys, a chapel and a seclusion roomdedicated to St. Simeon was carved. Entrance of the stylite which is accessible with a narrow chimney is decorated with crucifixes. There are oven, sitting and sleeping quarters and window apertures to ensure light transmission in this fairy chimney. The fairy chimneys in Pasabag are the most popular ones in Cappadocia region and is the only examples in a massive number in the world. We are using the pictures of Pasabag Valley in the advertisement of Turkey all around the world as well.
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