Cappadocia (in Turkish: Kapadokya)
According to historical records, the name of this region derives from the old Persian word “Katpatuka” which means "the land of beautiful horses". Located in Nevşehir, central Anatolia, it owes its extraordinary appearance to two volcanoes which erupted millions of years ago: Mount Hasan near Aksaray (Garsaura) and Mount Erciyes (Argaeus) near Kayseri (Caesarea). The soft layers of lava, tuffs and ashes resulted in various strange formations during a process of millions of years, due to the erosion caused by the winds and the rains: conical shapes, fairy chimneys (with a basal hat), oval shapes. The presence of tuff rocks made easier digging a great number of underground cities and thousands of cave churches everywhere.
Underground cities: The most important underground cities are Derinkuyu and kaymaklı. With its eight floors, Derinkuyu underground city is the largest one. The city is organized around 52 ventilation shafts which reach at some places a depth of 100 m, while Kaymaklı underground city is organized around only one ventilation shaft. These shafts were used also as wells for water supply. These cities were so large that they sheltered tens thousands of inhabitants during the raids of intruders; they served as a refuge for early Greek Christians who were persecuted in the third century A.D. by the Romans, and in seventh century A.D. by the Arabs. They were equipped with food storage rooms, churches, kitchens, ventilation shafts, stables, wine and oil presses, water wells, refectories.
Göreme Open-Air Museum: One of Turkey’s World Heritage sites, this museum consists of monasteries, churches, chapels, refectories, kitchens and living areas carved into the rock. As a center of religious education, this region was founded in 4th century by St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, whose thoughts began to be taught here for the first time. St. Basil is an important figure in the history of Christianity who brought innovative ideas to the Christianity. The monastic life in the region lasted some 1000 years. There are many chapels and churches: Aziz Basil Şapeli (Chapel of St Basil), Elmalı Kilise (Apple Church), Azize Barbara Şapeli (Chapel of St Barbara), Yılanlı Kilise (Snake Church or Church of St Onuphrius), Karanlık Kilise (Dark Church), Azize Katerina Şapeli (Chapel of St Catherine), Çarıklı Kilise (Sandal Church). On the interior walls of churches, there are frescoes depicting important events in the life of Jesus.
Citadels Uchisar and Ortahisar: Being two highlights of Cappadocia, these citadels are observed from afar. Originally, they were giant boulders transformed over the years by erosion due to air and rain. From the top of these two citadels, one can enjoy the picturesque scenery of the surrounding valleys and mountains Hasan and Erciyes. Various churches and houses were carved into the soft tufa citadels, even used until 1950 by Turks, and then left because of landslides due to earthquakes.