Cappadocia, Turkey’s Otherworldly Landscape Built by Man and Mother Nature

It looks like a place out of a fairy tale from above and a sci-fi movie location from below.

  • Cappadocia is a remarkable terrain located in east-central Anatolia in Turkey.
  • Its otherworldly landscape of towering cones and pillars resulted from the plateau’s erosion.
  • Humans later created caves and complex tunnels from existing structures.
  • This ancient district is famously known for the Göreme Open Air Museum, and the subterrean cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı.

Cappadocia is situated on the high, Anatolian plateau in the middle of Turkey and extends from Kayseri west to Aksaray.

Ancient volcanic eruptions covered the region with thick ash which then formed into tuff or soft rock. Wind and water eventually caused the plateau’s erosion.

Consequently, it left a surreal landscape of towers, cones, caves, and pinnacles as high as 130 feet tall.
Photo: Petersonaaron via Flickr
People began to live in Göreme as early as the Hittite era, around 1800 to 1200 BC.

Caught between the war of Greek and Persian empires and later with Byzantine Greeks and its rivals, Cappadocia was left vulnerable to attack.

Therefore, people began expanding or creating tunnels and caves from existing structures. Eventually, subterrean cities formed where the residents took refuge.

The underground city of Derinkuyu is at least 18 stories deep beneath the ground and can house around 20,000 people.
Photo: David Welch via Flickr

Amazingly, it has thousands of ventilation shafts and water ways that provide fresh air and water to the site. There were rooms for lodgings, stables, and even churches in Derinkuyu.

Massive stone wheels that roll serve as doors to the city.
Photo: Oozhan via Flickr
Above, rock-cut churches dating back between the 10th and 12th centuries make up the Göreme Open Air Museum.
Photo: David Pirmann via Flickr

The monks adorned them with stunning frescoes, which are still well-preserved to this day according to an article by the National Geographic. During the early days of Christianity, Cappadocia became a religious refuge.

Christians fleeing persecution from the Romans flocked the site and established monastic communities there.
Photo: Eric via Flickr
Tourists also visit the area to ride hot air ballons and bask in the beauty of the landscape.
Photo: Eric via Flickr

Since 1984, The Göreme Open Air Museum has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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