A Travellerspoint blog

Making Mole Hills out of Mountains

semi-overcast 23 °C

The Cappadocia region in the heart of Turkey is one of the weirdest places on earth - that's why we are here. Just look at this crazy landscape...
We thought that the flaming mountain of Olympos and the warm glacial pistes of Pamulkalle were pretty unusual, but we could hardly believe our eyes when we saw these huge phalli, called fairy chimneys, sprouting out of the ground. But then we discovered that entire skyscrapers had been created inside some of the biggest ones...
while others had been turned into cute little cottages...
Two-thousand years ago this entire area was engulfed in a thick layer of volcanic ash. As the ash was eroded it left these phallic pillars of soft rock that the early Christians realised would make terrific churches and homes, so they began tunneling and eventually transformed the whole place into a giant Swiss cheese.
Between the 4th and 11th century AD the Christians were constantly harassed by the Romans, Persians and Muslims, so they turned their tunneling skills to the rocks beneath their feet and burrowed great cities up to 100 metres underground. More than 10,000 people lived in the largest of these subterranean cities whenever there was risk of attack. We went deep underground to see these amazing places but wouldn't recommend the experience for anyone even slightly claustrophobic...
Cappadocia is a fascinating place full of history and mystery and it would be easy to spend a few weeks here. Although it is becoming a tourist mecca, daily life carries on unchanged for the farmers and their families as they gather this year's harvest of melons and grapes. We can only wonder what they must think of the thousands of foreigners who travel from around the globe to gawp at the homes their ancestors carved into every available lump of rock. These are high up on a cliff face...
....or to pay big bucks to stay in a hotel room made out of Uncle Mustafa's old home...
Some Cappadocians still live in houses hewn out of the fairy chimneys and rock faces - perhaps to escape the onslaught of tourists.

Posted by Hawkson 11:11 Archived in Turkey

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We watched a documentary about this place, and were absolutely fascinated. Thanks for going there, and bringing it to life...

by Sharron

Bruce Chatwin wrote a wonderful book describing his visit to this region. Thanks for sharing the experience. Claustrophobia would fell me despite fascination of exploring. How did you do it Jim, Sheila could barely stand up.

by Sue Fitzwilson

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