June 16th – 17th, 2014
It all started with a “60 Minutes” news program that we had watched a few years ago. We had remembered seeing a program about an area in Turkey with these neat cave churches that had beautiful frescos painted on the walls and ceilings.The only problem was, we did not remember where in Turkey this was.
But, thanks to the internet and a bit of research, we located the “60 Minutes” segment and re-watched it. In the interview, Bartholomew, the Patriarch of the orthodox Christian Church talked about the roots of Christianity in Turkey and took the crew to Cappadocia. And with that, we made our plans to explore this region of Turkey.
Cappadocia is in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. It is famous for the peculiar landscape that formed from volcanic eruptions and the effects of erosion on the softer volcanic rock.
This weathering created formations known as ‘fairy chimneys’.
These weathered rock formations were soft on the inside and easy to hollow out. For centuries, man had used these formations as shelters.
Expanding the caves and creating whole communities built into the rock.
This particular rock shelter was in the area known as “Monks Valley”. St Simeon, who was living in seclusion in Aleppo in Syria in the 5th century, moved to this region to escape the attention that he had generated through working miracles. It is said that St Simeon lived in seclusion in this particular rock formation, coming down only to get the food and drink brought by his disciples.
Over time, these simple rock shelters became more elaborate houses……..
And towns built up around them.
Today, many of these cave houses have been turned into hotels to support a growing tourism industry.
For this region, also, we had hired a private guide, Sinem (Her name is very similar to our previous guide). Sinem and a driver picked us up at the airport in Nevsehir at about 9 am, and we began our exploration of Cappadocia.
We took our time…..stopping to ‘'”Use our imagination……...”and picture the different rock formations.
As we toured some of the cave dwellings we were surprised to see many doves.The local people had for centuries raised doves, providing them with places in the rock to nest, and collecting their guano (or poop) for fertilizer.
There was so much to see and do….and just two days to explore this fascinating region. On to Goreme and the cave churches.