Long before the first lunar landing was achieved, mankind wondered what it would be like to have a fully-fledged civilization on the Moon. Well, guess what? We have had one, for a long, long while. It is named Cappadocia; “the Land of Beautiful Horses” as it was dubbed in times long past.
Approximately 60 million years ago, now-dormant volcanos Mt. Erciyes, Mt. Hasandagi and Mt. Gulludag erupted almost simultaneously (in a universal time scale), scattering their lava and ashes all around the region. Throughout the following few million years, rain and winds shaped the unusual landscape of Cappadocia out of these unlikely materials.
The unique features led to its long-time inhabitance since ancient times. Combined with its amazing natural reserves, many different nations over millenia settled in the area, together constituting an unbelievable acumen of history. So much so that the surface had enough, encouraging people to build entire underground cities such as Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. Covered with frescoes and murals, these marvels of manpower and art are still perfectly intact – including their living grounds, stables, temples, storage rooms, air vents and even schools. On the surface, the outstanding churches built into the marvellously shaped rocks fill in their void.
To go into specifics, the first fully-developed “super power” to have reign over these lands were the Hittites. In 6th Century B.C, Persian Empire took over and held the region until Alexander the Great drove them out; leading to the foundation of Kingdom of Cappadocia which was self-governing under the influence of Romans. It was the Persians who gave Cappadocia its proper name; meaning “The Land of Beautiful Horses”. After all the times it exchanged rulers, it was not until the 3rd Century A.D when early Christians migrated there, when they built the marvels we now observe in awe. The main reason for all the secrecy of underground cities, rock churches and stone houses was to escape from the tyranny of Rome against them, to have a safe place where they could freely live their beliefs and teach the next generations. Althought the area is known to be one of the most influential places that contributed to the spread of Christianity, it was also a haven for free-thinkers and artisans who turned their surroundings into something we now proudly call “world heritage”. Just imagining what these past “residents” must have left behind gives you the goosebumps, does it not?
There is such an amazing amount of history involved that it simply cannot be covered in a day. Even though modern travel agencies found a solution to that by dividing into 2 main parts, it is still possible to learn new things about Cappadocia every single day – even if you spend months there. On top of this, there is no end to how you can spice up your trip. The best option is of course hiking, which allows you to interact with your surroundings anytime. Vehicular excursions is another option, yet nothing beats the hot air-balloon ride. Considered a specialty among the arsenal of services you can receive in Cappadocia; hot air-balloon touring is the mother of all due to the fact that it gives you a 360-degree perspective over the magical grounds; providing your eyes with a feast of “surreal” sights and your soul with an appreciation of how lucky you are to be there.
Do not assume Cappadocia is all “history carved on rocks”, as its green side is at least as impressive. Special spots such as Ihlara Valley offer an escape into the oasis of natural relaxation and creates an understanding as to why all those nations in the past chose to be right where you are.
Is this it? Certainly not at all! Remember when we said “Cappadocia” means “The Land of Beautiful Horses”? It would be a big shame to ignore horseback ride tours. Bred and trained in the same lands for thousands of years, Cappadocia’s horses are still taken care of in accordance with the tradition; by professionals who will gladly help you ‘learn the ropes’ and escort you throughout an adventure into a journey which can be considered out of this world. Scared of horses? Fear not, we have got you covered – with none other than the ATV. Although not as adorable a companion as a loyal steed would be, ATVs will still know no boundaries as to where they can get you atop this city-sized natural art exhibition.
One of the best parts of visiting Cappadocia is the accommodation. Built into the “fairy chimneys”, rocks and on similar authentic natural grounds; there is a concept called “cave hotels” which is native only to the region. Aside from their one-of-a-kind atmosphere, they combine the comfort of world-class hotels with a personal touch of history due to the fact that most of them used to be big family houses.
Well of course a beautiful place like this would be incomplete without a special cuisine, would not it? A must-try in Cappadocia is the dish called “testi kebabi”. As one of the most brilliant samples of Turkish food culture, this masterpiece is truly worth the time that you need to wait for it to be properly cooked. Plus, since it is baked in a sealed urn, even the serving of it is a ceremonial show on its own. All in all, you get to hit two birds with one stone when you go to Cappadocia: walking on the moon, while staying at the cradle of civilizations.
As Imperial Travel, we have made it our mission to introduce you to the world of wonders such as Cappadocia – via Travel Booking Turkey. In many of our Turkey tour packages, Cappadocia is included as either in small group tours or private tours, so we can be a proper host on your journey where you will be satisfied both as a history buff and sightseer. For further information or travel tips about tours in Cappadocia or in general, feel free to contact us and view our gallery.