Capadoccia where the true cavemen live! we ...

Trip Start Oct 02, 2001
Trip End Nov 01, 2001

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Sunday, October 21, 2001

Capadoccia, where the true cavemen live!

We managed to get out of Istanbul and took an overnight bus to Capadoccia. Capadoccia stands for the 'land of horses'. In ancient times, before the Byzantine empire (or the Roman empire), the people here used to pay their taxes with horses, hence the name, Capadoccia. It is also 1200 metres above sea level, which explains why there is abundant snow here in the winter time.

Although the rest of our trip will be rather hectic, we both agreed today that the sites are a 'must see'.
This log entry will be relatively short since all we'll be doing is blitzing through the Capadoccia region on organized tours.

Day 1 - Smurfs?!?

On our first day tour, Oguz took us to the ancient valleys and cities that make this place famous. There are three major volcanos in the area, each within hundreds of kilometres of each other (to give you an idea, the largest one was once 15000 metres high and is now about 4000 metres high). They erupted for 2 million years. The last eruption ended in 8000 bc. The 'overlap' of lava from the 3 volcanoes is what created this other worldly landscape. For thousands of years after the volcanos stopped erupting, there was heavy erosion due to snow, rain, wind etc... The erosion left thousands of mushroom type structures. The softer ground around these structures eroded while the stronger ground stood tall. The inhabitants then took advantage of the softer rock to carve entire cities out of the stronger material. It's amazing to see houses (full with kitchens, living quarters, bedrooms and even internet and satelite TV!), churches and monastaries carved right into the rock! They really reminded us of the 'smurfs' carved out of stone... hrm... wonder where the smurfs idea came from anyway? We spent the entire day in awe walking through these fantastic rock formations.

We spent the evening in a nearby town called Goreme after meeting two friends from our tour. After a great meal at a cheap restaurant, we went to the Flintstone cave bar for a few beers with our new friends. The Flintstone cave bar is directly carved into the rock to create an authentic cave! It is quite the site to see here because everything seems to be carved out of this volcanic rock.
An early night for us (1:30 am) with an early pick up at our hotel for the second day of our trek through the region.

Day 2 - Down Under Ground

After visiting more of the 1000+ churches built in the rocks, we had aquick lunch and headed for the highlight of our tour... to visit the real hardcore cavemen!
The majority of our second day was spent exploring a huge underground city called Kaymakli. Thanks to this soft post magma material, the people who lived here were able to carve no less than 36 underground cities! These cities were used for hiding the inhabitants from their enemies. The city we visited was the second largest and could house 7000 people for extended periods of time. Built deep beneath the rocky hills of Capadoccia, this city was more than eight stories underground. Needless to say that the caves are dark and cold and the oxygen seems to get more and more scarce as you explore the depths below. It is said that in total, up to 150,000 people could hide in these cities. We spent several hours exploring the tiny passage ways (no claustophobics allowed), crevices and alcoves. This city actually extended for 9 kilometres horizontally, with some tunnels linking the other cities with an extensive network of underground tunnels...incredible!!!

After what seemed like a very long time, we saw sunlight again and head for the largest carved castle in Capadoccia. The castle is 85 metres high and carved right into the stone... We remember looking at ourselves after the twenty minute hike thinking "there's not much holding this place up is there?". The panaramic view from the top was awesome.

We are now in a bit of a rush to our overnight bus to Pamukkale to explore the thousands of natural hot springs. We'll keep you informed.

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