Cappadocia, Turkey

Morning horse ride near the town of Göreme

Early this week we left Istanbul and took a short flight to a region called Cappadocia–one of the 18 UNESCO sites in Turkey.

With a 1am take off, the flight made for an exhausting trip even though it only took an hour and a half.

Fortunately, Margaret can get a good night’s sleep just about anywhere.

At the Kayseri airport, we rented a car and drove another couple of hours to a small town in the region of Cappadocia where our host was awake and awaiting us.

Cappadocia is a landscape that appears a lot like that of Capitol Reef National Park–white stone formations and canyons.

The stone here is different though. It’s not sandstone but a soft volcanic stone called “tuff”.

Erosion has left irregular cones of the stone standing in the landscape. Some of them even have mushroom shaped caps like the hoodoos in Utah’s Goblin Valley, although the ones in Cappadocia are much larger.

Some of the formations made from erosion of the soft stone called “tuff”
This is the general landscaped of the region. This view is of a place called Pigeon Valley owing to the numerous dovecotes the inhabitants of the area carved into the rock.

The area was first settled in Paleolithic times–more than 8,000 years BCE. It lies along the Silk Road trade route and has been an important region for millennia.

What makes the area most famous is that into this soft stone, people have carved all sorts of caves and recesses.

In some places, the rocks literally look like Swiss cheese from all the caves that have been carved.

The caves first started with the Hittites, but where then occupied during Roman times, then Byzantine times. Later the Ottomans came and moved into the caves.

Although most of the people in this region now live in homes and apartments in town, some still live in the caves. Run a few power and water lines to a cave and they make a fairly comfortable dwelling.

Some of these caves have been inhabited without significant interruption for thousands and thousands of years–although they have changed hands a few times.

We met a man named Memo who still lives in the same cave his family had occupied for 400 years, although for the last four years, he only lives half the year in the cave. He let us come into his home and see what modern cave life looks like.

Memo in his modern cave home, fully equipped with a stove,a kitchen, electricity, and indoor plumbing. He says it’s quite comfortable. Follow him on Instagram: memo_peri_house

No matter where we drive in this area, there are countless caves visible from the road. They’re everywhere.

This is one of the more elaborate churches carved into the stone. They wouldn’t let you take pictures inside the church, but it had vaulted ceilings covered in frescoes on a blue background. There were churches everywhere though. In exploring some small areas, we’d find 3 or 4 churches among the caves. These date to Byzantine times.
Church with a fresco of Christ. It’s part of an “open air museum”.
This is one of the churches we found exploring caves off the side of the road. You can see the cross carved into the ceiling
We found three small cave churches in the area.
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