Cappadocia is the name for an area in central Turkey with one of the most extraordinary and loveliest landscapes offered.
A volcanic eruption over 30 million years ago gave this terrain its whimsical, windswept appearance, dotted by pinnacles, towering rock formations and evidence of the numerous civilizations who inhabited this land throughout the millennia.
Underground cities and rock-cut churches from the early days of Christianity add a complemet of historyto this fantastic natural wonder in the heart of central Anatolia. It is the homeland of Saint George, fairy chimneys, the underground cities mentioned in Xenophon’s Anabasis and the greatest concentration of Byzantine cave churches with remarkable in-situ frescos. The region derived its name from the Persian “Katpatuka”, meaning the “land of beautiful horses”. Horses were bred there from as early as the mid-second millenium B.C., and throughout the classical period Cappadocia was renowned for its stables, while paying tributes with horses became a tradition in the area.
It is an extraordinary land, combining unique and beautiful natural features with a fascinating cultural and historical past. Hittites, Byzantines, and early Christians established important landmarks here, as did Mother Nature with her stunning erosion of the soft volcanic deposits creating dramatic cliffs, valleys, cones, and “fairy chimneys”. Hidden throughout the landscape are secret caves containing exquisitely painted churches and enormous underground cities where early Christians took refuge.
Cappadocia generously spreads out before visitors… an extraordinary and lavish banquet of natural wonders exceeding their wildest imagination and elegantly graced with works by the hand of man.The Cappadocia region has been inhabited since prehistoric times constituting an extremely critical and strategic gateway. Important trade routes – including the illustrious Silk Road – traversed it both east and west, north and south. As a result of this heavy traffic, the region was a complex web of historical and cultural influences. Cappadocia was where different faiths and philosophies met and influenced one another.
Cappadocia’s trade and resources were tempting prizes and the region was frequently invaded, raided and looted. To protect themselves from such depredations, the local inhabitants took to living in the region’s caverns and grottos whose entrances could be concealed so as not to be noticed by trouble-making outsiders. Since it might be necessary to lie low for extended periods of time, these troglodytic dwellings eventually became subterranean cities that included sources of water, places to store food, wineries and temples. Some of them date back to before the Christian era.
There are said to be 200 underground cities in Cappadocia. Most are small and unsafe, dark and forgotton but four of them are open to visitors and provided with electric light to varying depths.This land of fairy tales whispers a rich history through its unique fairy chimneys neighbouring cave houses which have been harmoniously constructed with the natural tissue of this extraordinary land. After being meticulously restored, without damaging the natural and historical characteristics of these rock formations which have witnessed several civilizations throughout centuries, today these rock houses and caves are considered among the world’s most beautiful and famous boutique hotels.