In 2019 more than 3 million people visited Cappadocia. What amazes people? Which activities attract them here? What you should not miss when you visit Cappadocia?
There are three windows we can open to look and understand this mysterious land.
Bazalt and tuff stone took many different shapes in Cappadocia. You can see mushroom shape rock formations, hillsides containing different colours ( red, pink, white and dark colours at the top) and rock formations which lost their hardtop and looks like chimneys. Also, there are caves which carved into fairy chimneys, hillsides and underground. You can experience this beautiful landscape with hot air balloons, local excursions, jeep or atv safaris, horse back ridings and valley hikings.
Cappadocia is located at the central Anatolia. Anatolia is the name of the Asia Minor which is a peninsula, a bridge between Asia and Europe. Therefore Cappadocia plays very important role in the history. From Hittites to Alexander the Great, Romans to Seljuks it was the land of many great events in the history. Best way to discover this amazing history is travling with a licensed professional tour guide. You can visit villages which founded in the valleys ( for example Zelve Museum, Cavusin Vilage) You can visit mosques which use to be an orthodox church and ask about population exchange between Muslims and Christians. Cappadocia surely has a deep history and it waits for you to blow the dust away and understand it.
History also can be seen on the faces of the local people of Cappadocia. When you wonder around you can still see people living in (modern) caves. When you visit a gift shop you can find objects which survived through the centuries. Pottery and carpet shops are must see in Cappadocia.
Paganism was the ruling religion in this region for a very long time. There were temples carved in to rock formations. Clay attributions of the Anatolian Gods were very prevelant. Even today when you visit a pottery shop one of the most important thing they will introduce you is Hittite wine jar dedicated to Goddess of Sun.
Christianity arrived this region with Saint Paul while it was still an unwanted religion in Roman Empire. First Christians in Cappadocia carved secret churches in underground. They survived and also saved their religion until the 4th century. Then Christianity accepted as one of formal religions. Thus Chirstians carved their churches in to the rock formations on the ground and didn’t hide them from anyone. They converted temples into churches and mostly decorated them with icons. A specially after the Iconoclasm in 8th and 9 th, 10th, 11th, centuries they made master pieces of themselves. Göreme Open Air Museum is one of the most famous and important museums in Cappadocia. Here you can see the best examples of the ikons. Dark Church in Open Air Museum is a must see place if you are interested. Furthermore there is a very good and friendly relationship between Christianity and Islam. Seljuks Turks brought Islam to Cappadocia. After they took the control over the region they settled with chirstians. Muslim and Christian people lived in this region as neighbours for centuries. There are churches which you can find ikons depicting Sultan Mesut ( a Muslim ruler) with Jesus. ( Sandal Church in Göreme Open Air Museum, St. George Church in Ihlara Valley) This depiction shows us that Sultan gived donations to Churches and provided peace and between religions.
Best way to learn abou Religions in Cappadocia is getting a licensed professional tour guide.