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Cappadocia Facts

More than hundred hot air balloons take off each morning to take tourists over the valleys of Cappadocia. It is the best way to experience the geography of this region.

More than hundred hot air balloons take off each morning to take tourists over the valleys of Cappadocia. It is the best way to experience the geography of this region. (View larger version)

Photograph by National Geographic Channel/Olgu Baran Kubilay

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  • The unique landscape of Cappadocia was formed by the erosion of volcanic rocks. Ancient volcanic eruptions blanketed this region with thick ash, which solidified into a soft rock called tuff. Over time wind and water eroded these tuff rocks, turning them into mushroom-like pillars known as fairy chimneys.

  • The soft quality of tuff rocks in Cappadocia enabled the early inhabitants to carve dwellings, churches, and hiding places both above and under the ground which make up one of the largest rock-cut complexes in the world. 

  • Cappadocia covers an area of approximately 5,000 square kilometers and lies between three provinces in Central Anatolia; Nevşehir, Keyseri, and Niğde, right in the heart of Turkey.

  • During the ancient times the Cappadocia region was famous for its horses. It is believed that the name “Cappadocia” is derived from an ancient Persian word, “Katpaktukya” which means the land of beautiful horses.

  • Özkonak underground settlement is different from other underground cities in the region because of its defensive features. Özkonak contains small holes on its ceiling which are believed to be used for pouring oil onto intruders.  

  • Because of Cappadocia’s dry and arid landscape, farmers used Pigeon droppings to fertilize their land. Every able bodied male was expected to dig himself a pigeon house on top of formations away from predators and thieves.  

  • The Christians, escaping the Arab invasion, gave one town the name of Goreme which means “you cannot see here”. 
  • A monastic life in Cappadocia was established by Saint Basil the Great or Basil of Caesarea who encouraged Christian monks to gather and pray together in a monastery. 

  • Tokali Kilise church, also known as the Buckle Church, is considered to be the main sanctuary of monastic life in Byzantine Cappadocia. The frescoes in Tokali Kilise church represent some of the finest surviving paintings from the early Middle Ages.  

  • There were two types of painting techniques used in churches of Cappadocia. The first technique is to paint directly on the bare rock using roots of vegetables for color. Later on these original paintings were covered with plaster and repainted with scenes from the bible.
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