Cappadocia, which used to be known as Katpatuka (Land of Beautiful Horses) in old Persian, is a region in central Anatolia, 300 kilometers southeast of Ankara, the capital city of modern-day Turkey.
Cappadocia is known for its unusual landscape, the result of the violent eruption of volcanoes, Mount Erciyes (3,917 meters) and Mount Hasan (3,268 meters), some 3 million years ago. Lava and volcanic dust and ashes covered the region, which eventually hardened into a thick layer of tuff. Over the years, water and wind eroded the soft and brittle volcanic surface, creating deep valleys and many different types of strange rock formations, such as rock cones and fairy chimneys.
Archaeological evidence shows that Cappadocia was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic period (c. 2.5 million BCE - 10,000 BCE), and continued to serve as home to the peoples of many different civilizations, including the Hittites, Greeks, and the Romans. Dwellings were dug into the rocks and provided shelter from the environment, defense against foreign invasions, and refuge from religious persecution. These dwellings interconnect, forming some two hundred to three hundred underground cities, equipped with elaborate air ventilation systems, water storage units, and in some cases, even stables and wineries. One of the most famous and well excavated is Kaymakli, where Christians hid from the pagan Roman invaders during the seventh century.
Parts of the underground cities are still used by Cappadocia's present-day inhabitants. For example, underground canals are used to regulate water in the nearby farmland, and local produce, such as potatoes and citrus fruits, is stored in subterranean storage units. People still live in above-ground rock structures, some of which are even used as hotels and inns. Cappadocia is a popular tourist destination, with over a million foreign visitors in 1997.
One of the most fascinating areas in Turkey is without any doubt Cappadocia. During millions of years, nature has created a strange landscape with freaky rock formations. A fascinating fairytale-landscape of colorful tuff stone, romantic valleys and bizarre shaped rocks. An area, where the Flintstones could have lived: here you'll find dwellings, stables and churches, all carved out in the relative soft tuff stone. There are even complete underground cities, which housed up to 20.000 inhabitants!
Cappadocia is situated in Central Anatolia, almost in the centre of Turkey. Cappadocia's borders are between the cities Nevsehir, Aksaray, Nigde, Kayseri and Kirsehir. The beautiful moonscape lies between the little villages Uchisar, Göreme, Avanos, Ürgüp, Derinkuyu, Kaymakli and Ihlara.
Göreme is situated in the heart of Cappadocia, therefore it's a popular destination for tourists especially backpackers. Nevertheless, Göreme is not very crowded and the village has maintained it's Turkish character. You can walk easily to one of the beautiful and serene valleys filled with the strangely shaped fairy chimneys. You will walk small paths, leading you through fields filled with wild flowers and orchards, and you will enjoy the songs of Nightingale and Golden Oreole, Hoopoe and skylark.
But Göreme has a lot more to offer: a fairy-like balloon flight, taste the wine of Cappadocia, learn how to make pottery, go to the Turkish Bath or have dinner with folkloristic music and dance. In brief: do you want to have an unforgettable vacation, come to Cappadocia!