HomeWorld NewsCappadocia: Inside Turkey's incredible underground city

Cappadocia: Inside Turkey’s incredible underground city

(CNN) — It’s a panorama that appears nearly alien. Soft tufa rock — spewed from volcanoes millennia in the past to create a sequence of ethereal “fairy chimneys” which were formed and sculpted by nature. This is Cappadocia.

Rising above the Anatolian Plains of central Turkey, this historic area is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, drawing in hundreds of vacationers yearly. Many take to the skies in scorching air balloons because the solar rises, all the higher to get a view of the rock formations whimsically known as “fairy chimneys” that are available all sizes and shapes — cone ones, pointy ones, even some suggestive ones.

Nature might have created this panorama, nevertheless it was historical civilizations that turned and tailored it to their very own goal. Local individuals have labored onerous to protect this historical past and the normal cultures which have grown in its wake. And nowhere is that this extra apparent than deep beneath these towering limestone peaks.

Going underground

Balloons are the best method to expertise the serene panorama of Cappadocia.


The gentle rock right here, with its winding cave programs and sequence of pure caverns, meant Cappadocia grew to become famend for its underground cities in medieval instances. When marauding armies arrived right here, hundreds of individuals would escape and survive under floor, generally for months on finish.

Spanning 18 flooring to a depth of 85 meters, Derinkuyu is among the largest and deepest subterranean cities in Turkey.

Omer Tosun is a neighborhood antiques collector and the proprietor of Cappadocia’s first luxurious resort. He’s made it his enterprise to introduce fascinated guests to each aspect of Cappadocian tradition, particularly Derinkuyu.

Venturing into the fairy chimneys begins a journey of discovery on this uncommon place.

“Picture this,” he says standing in what was as soon as an underground steady. “People are farming outside and then when an army attacks these people take all of their animals and come inside.”

Omer explains that as many as 20,000 individuals would have hidden in these slender passages for months at a time when Mongol forces roamed overhead. They would have made use of tons of of retailer rooms, dwelling areas and even communication tunnels by which they may shout messages and relay information of what was taking place above floor.

Today, Omer runs the Museum Hotel. Painstakingly restored over twenty years, this opulent property is house to 60 caves and 10 incredible buildings, some courting again a thousand years. Omer’s work to carry the ruins again to life signifies that vacationers can now keep on this historic spot, tucked under Uçhisar Castle, the best level in Cappadocia.

Dark Church


The luxurious Museum Hotel has 60 caves and 10 buildings, some courting again 1,000 years.


The caves are adorned with unique paintings, with a spectacular Sultan Suite coming replete with a scorching tub that appears out throughout the fairy chimneys.

“This is Eden Garden-like,” says Omer. “We have lots of beautiful birds around and they come and say welcome to you,” pointing to a pair of amorous peacocks.

What this superb resort, and these historical cave cities present is how the panorama has formed the individuals of Cappadocia and the way they too have formed it again over the previous millennia.

Cappadocia Turkey QWOW

The Dark Church is a trove of ecclesiastical magnificence.


There’s no higher place to assist perceive this bond between nature and other people than the Goreme Open Air Museum. Originally believed to have been a Byzantine monastic settlement earlier than changing into a pilgrimage web site within the seventeenth century, the quite a few chapels lower deep into the rock are house to incredible artwork and craftsmanship.

While every of them are stunning, essentially the most superb of all is the Dark Church. The unprepossessing exterior of the cave provides little trace of the ecclesiastical magnificence hidden inside. Known because the Dark Church as a result of it has no home windows, the shortage of sunshine has meant its beautiful frescoes have been absolutely preserved. The colourful renderings of Christ on the cross and the betrayal by Judas date from the eleventh century. Just as at Derinkuyu, it pays to count on the sudden.

Land of lovely horses


Cappadocia is alleged to take its identify from horses.


Wild horses have roamed these mountains for hundreds of years. Legend says it is their presence that gave Cappadocia its identify.

“Cappadocia means the land of the beautiful horses,” confirms Irfan Ozdogan. Irfan is a modern-day Turkish cowboy, the proprietor of a small corral nestled amidst this rocky wonderland from the place he takes vacationers out for a experience by this wondrous panorama.

Irfan’s rides soak up beautiful views of the fairy chimneys, in addition to giving guests an opportunity to decelerate and benefit from the tempo of exploring the world on horseback. As the Turkish proverb goes, “The one that doesn’t have a horse, doesn’t have a foot.”


Irfan Ozdogan is a modern-day Turkish cowboy.


But Cappadocia’s panorama does not simply serve up image postcard views of its most well-known pure phenomena or play house to a subterranean wonderland. The Kizilirmak River, which runs by the beautiful city of Avanos, is one other instance of nature working along with the native individuals to assist create one thing stunning. This river and the mud it produces has offered generations of craftsmen with a particular purple clay that is made Avanos well-known for its pottery.

Galip Korukcu is a grasp of the artwork, his work celebrated all through Cappadocia and past. Using a standard kickwheel, it is apparent that he discovered his craft from an early age.


Potter and hair collector Galip Korukcu.


“I learned it from my father. My father learned it from his father and so on,” he says as he works. He is, says his spouse Lilian, a minimum of the fifth era of his household to work with the gorgeous clay created by the close by river.

The pace, precision and ability displayed by Galip are extraordinary, honed over a few years of studying and follow. “If he would work the whole day, he could make about 150 pots,” says Lilian. Even with Galip’s serving to hand, it is inconceivable to make one thing that even resembles a pot when making an attempt the kick wheel for the primary time, not to mention think about making works that he has on show in showrooms and his personal store.

Weird, fantastic and distinctive


Avanos Hair Museum: Possibly one the world’s weirdest collections.


But Galip does not simply specialise in pottery. He has one other curiosity, one thing which marks him out in Cappadocia and does not derive from the pure panorama. Through the again of his pottery shop is the Avanos Hair Museum. Understandably, it has been billed as one of many weirdest museums on this planet. And with good cause.

There are greater than 16,000 tresses, from everywhere in the world right here. This will not be a lot a set — moderately a shrine to feminine locks. It’s onerous to not shake the sensation that it is all a bit unusual.

“I am not forcing them to give, they give by themselves,” says Galip. “Who am I to say if it is strange or not?”

Women have been donating their hair to Galip for over 30 years, together with Lilian. “I’m so used to it because I live in it,” she laughs. “But I remember in the beginning I thought it was very funny.”

Centuries-old traditions add to the wealthy experiences and trendy magic of Cappadocia,Turkey.

The hair does a minimum of have a goal. Everyone who donates their locks leaves a label on them, with names chosen randomly for a free week of board, lodging and pottery lessons. A method, albeit a considerably completely different one, for Galip to move on his abilities as a potter.

All of this isn’t to recommend that Cappadocia is not steeped in additional conventional Turkish pursuits. In reality, it is the most effective locations within the nation to come back for its most well-known export: carpets. And few individuals know extra about them than Ruth Lockwood, a carpet connoisseur from New Zealand who got here to Turkey greater than 30 years in the past.

She says that whereas the custom of creating, promoting and haggling for carpets stays sturdy, issues have modified “enormously.”

“When I first came here, it was wild. It was like the Woodstock of carpets, and people will still say to me, ‘Oh, you weren’t here then were you?'”

Lockwood explains that merchants carry out an enormous variety of carpets and tapestries to entice vacationers into parting with their money. The key, she says, is to not get too excited whenever you spot one thing you want.

“It’s always best not to look too enthusiastic when you’re buying,” she says. “Because, you know, they get an idea that you love it. And of course the price is going to go up.”

Lockwood has discovered to pick the perfect classic rugs, ones which assist inform the historical past of Cappadocia. Rather than seeing them as secondhand she says that they are “… beautiful vintage. They’re antique. And they represent a history and a tradition we can’t go back to.”

“Every area, every region, every village, every tribe have sizes, colors, and designs that belong to that group.”

That love of the precise, of the ornate and of the fantastically crafted is what sums up Cappadocia. It is an entire one-off. There is a panorama that’s one in every of a form, with experiences which can be uncommon and enriching.



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