Cappadocia which is unique in the world and is a miraculous nature wonder is the common name of the field covered by the provinces of Aksaray, Nevşehir, Niğde, Kayseri in the Central Anatolian region. The site of nature’s wonderful formations, a central Anatolian and world heritage with a history dating back to 3000 B.C.
This awesome geography where history and nature intertwines has been host to many civilizations throughout the centuries. The unique volcanic landscape of the region took shape as a result of the erosion of the volcanic layers which spread through the area with the eruption of Erciyes, Hasandağ and Güllüdağ Mountains about 60 million years ago.
Cappadocia, which means “Land of Beautiful Horses”, in Persian language, has been the hub of many civilizations and a gigantic shelter and center for christians who fled from the Roman Empire during the Hittite period and hid in the houses and churches carved inside of rocks. A district of Nevşehir and one of the key points of the Silk Road, Cappadocia is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The most important towns and destinations in Cappadocia are Ürgüp, Göreme, Ihlara Valley, Güzelyurt, Uçhisar, Avanos and Zelve. Among the underground cities worth seeing are Derinkuyu, Kaymakli, Gaziemir and Ozkanak. Hot-air ballooning is very popular in Cappadocia and is available in Goreme. Trekking is enjoyed in Ihlara Valley, Monastery Valley (Guzelyurt), Urgup and Goreme.
Cappadocia Region: One of the World’s Heritages and Historical Rock Engineering Laboratory
Turkey, a bridge between the Asian and European continents, is richly endowed with various civilizations that have inhabited this land since the Palaeolithic age. One of the seven sites, which are included in the World Heritage List by UNESCO, is the Cappadocia Region of Turkey. Easy carving and thermal properties of the Cappadocian tuffs have been the main reasons for the extensive multi – purpose underground and semi – underground (cliff) settlements in the region from past to present.
There are 23 known large – scale underground cities in which thousands of people lived in historical times. The self supporting structures in these soft tuffs, 90 m below the surface, consisted of 8 floors with ceremonial halls, storage areas with ventilation systems. In Göreme, tuff layers eroded by the water and wind action created the strange landscape of towering cones named “Fairy Chimneys “, and the valleys in which impressive hundreds of dwellings, catacombs and rock – cut churches were carved. Cappadocia is also a natural and historical rock engineering laboratory. The main rock engineering problems are time-dependent deformations threatening the long-term performance of underground openings, rock falls and rock slides from the castles and high rock cliffs threatening the cliff settlements and natural monuments, degradation of deformability and strength characteristics of rocks with time due to cyclic wetting-drying and freezing-thawing, collapse of some fairy chimneys, failures associated with erosion, bending and toppling of blocks and spalling and slabbing associated with yielding.