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.
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.
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.
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.
No matter where we drive in this area, there are countless caves visible from the road. They’re everywhere.Continue reading “Cappadocia, Turkey”