Fairy Chimneys and Underground Churches: Time for Turkey (2nd course – Cappadocia)


CAPPADOCIA – A Land of History and Mystery

When we first arrived in Cappadocia, we were awestruck at the stark, ancient beauty of the terrain around us.  As far as the eye could see, the lunar landscape boasted eerie-looking rock formations jutting up from the valley floor and hundreds of caves, crevices and cubby holes dotting the cliffs.

Lunar landscape

Goreme area

Fairy chimneys near Urgup

The formation of these incredible “chimneys” are the result of thousands of years of volcanic eruptions which set the groundwork for wind and water to erode away the soft tufa layer of rock while the harder, resistant rock remained.  (Some people actually have the nerve to ask their tour guide, “Who put those rocks on top and how did they do it?”)

Old cave dwelling

This remote area located in the center of Turkey is teaming with biblical history.  In fact, the Cappadocia region once known as Anatolia, was the seat of the Hittite empire of the Old Testament (descendants of Noah’s grandson, Canaan) 1750BC-1200BC.  Fast forward to around 500BC – the Persians reigned for almost 200 years during which time the region acquired its name, “Katpatuka” which meant “Land of the well-bred horses.”

Goreme area

Fast forward again to the Roman period (17AD – 395AD).  In Acts 2:9, pilgrims from Cappadocia were among those assembled with the believers in Jerusalem when they received the initial baptism of the Holy Spirit and heard the Apostle Peter preach his powerful message. Many members of this new religious sect, the Christians, migrated away from cities and settled in the remote areas of Cappadocia during the Roman persecution.   There are more than 200 cliff settlements in various sizes including full monasteries.  Goreme Open Air Museum is the site of a huge monastic complex with more than eight churches each containing beautiful frescoes of biblical themes many of which have retained their vibrant colors due to the cool, dark environment that is conducive to preserving color (no photos allowed inside.)

Exterior of Dark Church

The area of Cappadocia is literally “more than meets the eye.”  During times of persecution and invasion by the Romans and later the Arabs, entire communities sought refuge underground.  These underground settlements were large enough to be considered cities – a complex maze of tunnels that connected the outside world with an expansive subterranean world that included kitchens, sleeping areas, wineries, community centers,  churches and even stables and tombs.  We visited one particular city called Derinkuyu and as we descended deep into the cool earth to four floors below the surface, it was hard to imagine that there were still four more floors under us that were part of the city!  It was incredible to see the quaint chapels decorated with simple drawings of early Christian symbols painted on and carved out of the rock.  Even more beautiful was the realization that in the dark of this underground chapel, devout followers of The Way gathered to worship the Light of the World.

Flying high

From the depths of the earth to the heights of the clouds!  After our underworld experience, we chose to take a hot air balloon ride to see it all from  a bird’s eye perspective.  The bone-chilling predawn lift off was exhilarating and as the rising sun painted the cliffs and chimneys a warm shade of ivory and sienna, we marveled at God’s creation of this mysterious and sacred place.

Sunrise over Cappadocia

Sunrise on Goreme

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About Melanie A Crane

Quote: "The best journeys ask questions that in the beginning you never thought to ask." (Anon) Here's my journey: Enjoying my short life on this earth one moment at a time by being intentional with God, family, traveling, cooking, gardening, Colorado living and all the perks that come with it, playing guitar, listening more and talking less. I've discovered that both cooking and travel can be messy at times but the risks can have some amazing results. The same goes for life lived with passion.
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5 Responses to Fairy Chimneys and Underground Churches: Time for Turkey (2nd course – Cappadocia)

  1. littleoddme says:

    Oh wow, what spectacular scenery, and you captured it so well! So beautiful!

  2. heathersharmony says:

    Great post and good information, I love the photos though! Looks stunning and can hardly wait to visit the country for myself!

  3. selfharmony says:

    wow i never seen god made chimneys before @@ god the magical places in the world are so many. thanx for the great post

  4. amazingved says:

    great post, very informational, lovely photos

  5. travelbyts says:

    That’s a very informative post. I too travelled to Cappa with friends sometime back and the landscape is indeed marvelous. And the cave hotels add to that. 🙂

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