Cappadocia, the historical region located in the central part of the country, is called the heart of today’s Turkey. This region is interesting not only for its extraordinary nature, but also for the opportunity to touch the history of the first centuries of the Christian Church.
When meeting with Cappadocia, the idea involuntarily arises that you are on a different planet – the landscapes that open to your eyes are so unique and do not look like anything. There are volcanoes with snow-capped peaks, low, free-standing mountains, rock massifs and fertile valleys.
The most comfortable time to travel to Cappadocia is spring or autumn.
Underground cities and shrines of Cappadocia
Nevsehir is one of the few cities in Cappadocia where people, like 500 years ago, live in tuff caves, converting them into modern dwellings.
Urgyup is notable for its unique cave houses, as well as the temple and the house where St. John of Russia prayed and lived.
Goreme. The main attraction here is the open-air museum, which includes about 30 cave churches
Derinkuyu – an ancient underground city near Nevsehir, built in the 8-7 centuries. BC e., which was used by the early Christians in order to hide from the Arabs oppressing them.
Kaymakly is another underground city connected to Derinkuyu by a 9-kilometer tunnel. Currently, archaeologists have excavated 8 floors, but only the top 4 are open for visits.
The Ihlara Gorge is a deep and long canyon of volcanic origin (almost 14 km), in the sheer walls of which the hermit Christians built many temples, connecting them with an extensive network of passages.
Entertainment and Attractions
Modern Cappadocia is a major tourist center, more than a million foreign visitors come here annually, mainly from Western Europe, India, China, Japan and America. For tourists in Cappadocia, hotels of various levels have been built – from elite and even unique to the simplest. Various entertainment services are provided here – ski slopes, ethnic holidays, balloon flights. The unique nature and genuine treasures of Christian history and culture that are here, unfortunately, remain unknown to most Russians.
For a person who first came to Cappadocia, acquaintance most often begins with a visit to the capital of the region of Kayseri (Caesarea). This is a large industrial city and administrative center with a population of more than a million people, with multi-storey standard buildings. There are archaeological and ethnographic museums with interesting collections, fragments of an ancient fortress have been preserved.
At the end of the 3rd century. Christians began to actively explore the area between the three largest cities of Cappadocia – Nissa, Nazianz and Caesarea. They used underground shelters dug, according to historians, back during the Hittite kingdom. It was the Christians who expanded and deepened these cave structures, creating in some places real underground cities, the population of which, according to modern estimates, was up to 10 thousand people. The most famous of them, located near the village of Derinkuyu, goes 85 meters into the earth. In multi-storey labyrinths there were living quarters, storages, stables, workshops, and, of course, temples. Ancient underground cities are currently open to the public. They amaze with their scale and perfectly thought-out life support system. The ventilation shafts of the time are still operating here, and the tunnels and halls have a functional architecture. No less interesting is the underground city under the village of Kaimakly, where archaeologists have excavated so far only 5 floors. There is an assumption that the underground cities were used by Christians as shelters, first from the persecution of the Roman emperors, then from nomad Arabs, who often raided these lands in the 8th century, and then from the Seljuk Turks.
Goreme and Ihlara are the most famous and largest temple complexes of Christian Byzantine times. Temples of this period are also in the villages of Gizelyurt, Ortahisar, Gulsehir, Mustafapasha, Zelve valleys, Soganly, Pashbag and in many other places of Cappadocia.
Pilgrimage Tours to Cappadocia
This land is dear to the Orthodox heart by the fact that the apostolic sermon of St. Paul sounded here. But Cappadocia itself, where the Christian community arose quite early, showed the world a host of saints. In the church calendar there are more than fifty names of saints, martyrs, reverends and the righteous.
Cappadocia is the birthplace of the martyr Longinus Sotnik, the natives of this ancient land were St. Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea of Cappadocia, his younger brother Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, as well as Gregory the Theologian, Patriarch of Constantinople. These Church Fathers, who made a huge contribution to the formation of the Orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity, as well as Christian theology as a whole, went down in history with the name of the “great Cappadocians”.
At the first meeting with Cappadocia, the thought involuntarily arises that you are on a different planet – so unique and nothing like