The Caves of Cappadocia, Turkey, Summers of 1988, 1990 and 1996

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People's Republic of South Yorkshire.
OK, time for something a little bit different…

1. The History
The region of Cappadocia lies in the central Anatolian plains of modern-day Turkey and consists of a high plateau of over 1,000m, pierced by volcanic peaks, with Mount Erciyes, near to Kayseri, the tallest at 3,916 m. The area has a very continental climate of hot dry summers and cold snowy winters and little in the way of rainfall making the area semi-arid.

Cappadocia, derived from Old Persian, is a historical region in Central Anatolia, centred around the principal towns of in the Nevşehir, Kayseri and Aksaray. Earliest records make mention of the name of Cappadocia in late 6th century BC. Records dating back to the time of Herodotus at the time of the Ionian Revolt (499 BC) make reference to the Cappadocians occupying a region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine (Black Sea). Traditionally the name has been used in Christian sources. The Old Persian name Katpatuka meant "Low Country", although subsequent research suggests it comes from the Hittite adverb katta meaning 'down, below'. The area has a rich history and in the 3rd century BC was the largest province of the Roman Empire.

Erosion has shaped the landscape of Cappadocia and in the fourth century A.D. it was an urbanized via a labyrinth of underground dwellings. Previously, ancient volcanic eruptions covered the area with thick ash, which solidified into a soft rock called tuff. Wind and water have subsequently left only the harder elements behind, forming a magical landscape of cones, pillars, and chimneys. The area is now honeycombed with a network of man-made caves including living quarters, places of worship, stables, and storehouses, all dug out of the soft stone. Many date back from the Hittite era, circa 1800 to 1200 B.C. when the territory sat on the boundary between rival empires; first the Greeks and Persians and then later between the Byzantine Greeks and a host of other rivals. The fragile political position of the region meant that residents needed to hide, which they did by tunnelling into the rock.

The area became a religious refuge during the early days of Christianity and by the fourth century Christians fleeing Rome’s persecution were arriving in Cappadocia with monks excavating extensive dwellings and monasteries into the rock, decorated with Byzantine frescoed paintings in cave chapels.

Now the area, centred Göreme, is a World Heritage site and popular tourist destination, due to its many unique geological, historic, and cultural features.

2. The Explore
First became aware of this place while sharing with by big Turkish biddy Sahin during my master’s year. He had this poster on the wall of this massive piece of rock that looked like a piece of gorgonzola cheese with all the holes on it. From that very moment I knew I had to go here. I’ve been to Cappadocia three times – in 1988, 1990 and 1996 – but not for a very long time. It is a tourist destination and there are a number of tourist attractions here, including the underground cities – including the one at Derinkuyu.

However, get off the beaten track and there are numerous abandoned man-made caves you can explore. You could actually spend a week or so getting off the tourist trail here. Anyhow, a really unique place. If you find yourself in Turkey, this is an excellent place to head. You can even stay a few nights in a cave hotel then take the obligatory hot-air balloon ride to see either sunrise or sunset.

3. The Pictures

I guess this was the medieval equivalent of a block of flats:

49943141437_6a1df58785_b.jpgTurkey 8 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Many have been subject to collapsed, exposing their inner chambers:

49943140957_99db34f20c_b.jpgTurkey 17 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49943138842_75ce98647d_b.jpgTurkey 64 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49942333843_6ddec0b50e_b.jpgTurkey 155 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49942844231_13c02ba4ee_b.jpgTurkey 235bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

Not sure about the stair’s arrangement here:

49943141622_6557d79f91_b.jpgTurkey 260bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

Not too sure how old these wall paintings are:

49942840416_9a408363c4_b.jpgTurkey 65 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Or these:

49943143592_118097ff93_b.jpgTurkey 77 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Çavuşin in the district of Avanos in Nevşehir Province is particularly good for scrambling around former cave houses:

49943138107_cf5610e270_b.jpgTurkey 72 by HughieDW, on Flickr

If you venture outside of Cavusin old town, some of the caves you stumble across were former rock churches and have fantastic Christian frescos painted on the ceilings:

49944626141_91f0b4ef6c_b.jpgTurkey Scan 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49943141167_e149dff056_b.jpgTurkey 16 by HughieDW, on Flickr

At points you can get really high up an enjoy spectacular views:

49942331788_4e61654597_b.jpgTurkey 24 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49942845566_e25d76730b_b.jpgTurkey 69 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49943143182_d840110074_b.jpgTurkey 81 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This place, the Zelve valley, was particularly beautiful and a bit like another planet:

49942842356_ecd6532f8a_b.jpgTurkey 29 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49942839436_a71dd059e0_b.jpgTurkey 261bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

Inside some of the cave dwellings:

49942844666_d2a537cbe2_b.jpgTurkey 220bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

49943141947_945ab3c4c2_b.jpgTurkey 251bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

49942328713_9531b71648_b.jpgTurkey 233bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

The Cappadocians were keen keepers of pigeons. Uchisar Valley is known as the valley of the dovecotes:

49942330273_4dc8bf4f86_b.jpgTurkey 56 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49942329983_e7d17dd47e_b.jpgTurkey 60 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49942333063_964b02d432_b.jpgTurkey 242bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

Small dovecote on the valley floor:

49942844476_ac0f947567_b.jpgTurkey 224bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

Çavuşin in the district of Avanos in Nevşehir Province is particularly good for scrambling around former cave houses:

49943138107_cf5610e270_b.jpgTurkey 72 by HughieDW, on Flickr

In the Ihlara Valley the rock is slightly different and consists of harder rock, giving it a different, more rugged look. The valley apparently boasted more than four thousand dwellings and no less than a hundred cave churches decorated with frescoes. Around eighty thousand people once lived in Ihlara Valley.

49942331133_d4e6a11dc2_b.jpgTurkey 49 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49942330873_8da125c300_b.jpgTurkey 51 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49942330568_4df39b5a2f_b.jpgTurkey 52 by HughieDW, on Flickr

It is hard to tire of the landscape here:

49942840156_cfb6cb8cc2_b.jpgTurkey 67 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49942332638_46e5ecbb7d_b.jpgTurkey 257bw by HughieDW, on Flickr
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Aug 1, 2006
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wow mate that`s a cool looking place, you could mooch around there for hours.

Cheers Newage


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Feb 9, 2019
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That's amazing, I've been to Turkey twice on holiday and done most of the tourist bits, or as much as you can with a 4 year old in tow, but this is another level


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Mar 12, 2009
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Caves & churches only open on guided tours. Been there 1982, then with Explore Worldwide in 2005. Hot air balloon flight is magnificent.


Regular Member
Sep 23, 2013
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Incredible shots & place - have my lockdown evening sorted out now - fire up the PC & back here to slide into something exceptional (& maybe add alcohol!) . Definately a must for my post lockdown travel list


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Apr 13, 2015
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Wow really enjoyed looking through your photos and to find out that they are still parts that haven't been over touristified was nice. I was so lucky as I went there in 1981 as a teenager - I've no photos just a nice book that is of its a time with some lovely photos and my memories of the great people who lived there. Derinkuyu - we visisted there as well - bit of disaster as the power had failed, only got let in behind a bus of American tourists holding candles who then caused chaos down below that caused the tour to be abandoned. Me and my sis were more annoyed about the fact that our haggling with the local kids re souvenirs for a good while was for nothing when that bus turned up - would love to go back there one day.