Cappadocia (Kappadokia) is a region that was eroded by rain and wind for millions of years due to the soft layers formed by lava and ashes erupted from Erciyes, Hasandagi and Gulludag mountains 60 million years ago. It is considered as the one-of-kind place, thus, visited by millions of tourists every year.
The human settlement in this region dates back to the Paleolithic period. The lands that the Hittites lived became one of the most important centers of Christianity in later periods. The rocky houses and churches have made the region a huge haven for Christians escaping the pressure of the Roman Empire.
The geographer Strabo also mentions the boundaries of Cappadocia in his book “Geographika” (Geography-Anatolia XII. XIII, XIV) written during the period of the Roman Emperor Agustus. According to his definition of Cappadocia, the Taurus Mountains were in the south, the city of Aksaray was in the west, Malatya was in the east and the Black Sea was in the north. Today, the region called Cappadocia is a big spot of geographical formations concentrated on a 250 km2 area, especially in Nevsehir, a region spreading to Kirsehir, Nigde, Aksaray and Kayseri. The most visited regions are; Uchisar, Goreme, Avanos, Urgup, Derinkuyu, Kaymakli and Ihlara and some of there are also home to the locals.
The Cappadocia region is an integral part of nature and history. While geographical events form the Peribacalari, in historical process, people also craves these rocks and turned them into houses, churches and monasteries and adorned them with frescoes, thus, left the traces of civilizations which is thousands of years old. The written history of Cappadocia indicates that, human settlements here date back as far as the Paleolithic periods, which began with the Hittites. Cappadocia is one of the important junctions of the Silk Road, through which the trade colonies conducted their work and established a commercial and social bridge between countries.
In the 12th century BC, with the collapse of the Hittite Empire, a dark period began in the region. The late Hittite Kingdoms which was under the influence of Assyrian and Phrygian communities dominated the region. These kingdoms lasted until the Persian occupation of the 6th century BC.
In 332 BC, the Greater Alexander defeated the Persians, but he faced a great resistance in Cappadocia. In this period, the Kingdom of Cappadocia was already established. Towards the end of the 3rd century BC, the power of the Romans began to rise in the region. In the mid-1st century BC, the Cappadocian Kings were appointed by the Roman generals with the power and finally, dethroned. When the last king of Cappadocia died in 17 AD, the region became a province of Rome.
Christianity came to Cappadocia in the 3rd century AD and the region became center of education and philosophy for them. During the years 303-308, the pressure on the Christians increased. But Cappadocia was an ideal place to protect from repression and to spread Christian teaching. Deep valleys and caves formed of volcanic soft rocks provided a safe space against Roman soldiers.
The 4th century was the period of people who are later called “the Fathers of Cappadocia”. But the preeminence of the region reached a peak point when III. Leon’s prohibited the icons. In the face of this situation, some pro-icon people began to took refuge in the region. Iconoclasm movement lasted more than a hundred years (726-843). Although a few Cappadocian churches were influenced by Iconoclasm during this period, those who were in favor of icons kept on their worshipping here. The Cappadocian monasteries developed significantly in this period.
Again, during these periods, Arab raids started against Anatolian Christian regions throughout a large area, from Armenia to Cappadocia. People who ran away from these raids caused the styles of the churches in the region to change. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Cappadocia was seized by the Seljuks. In this and the following Ottoman times, the region had a problem-free period. The last Christians in the region left Cappadocia with the permutation of 1924-26, leaving beautiful architectural examples behind.
Today, Cappadocia is an internationally known touristic destination with peerless geographical and historical features. It is a ritual to watch the sunset in hot-air balloons. The hotels structed in the rocks and the massive vineyards are other local attractions that pulls many tourists to the region. Some of the best quality wine of the country is produced around Cappadocia.
Cappadocia, specifically, the Fairy Chimneys, are one of the most important landmarks of Turkey.