I knew from our pre-tour research that Cappadocia had caves. What I didn't understand is that the caves are everywhere. If there was a cliff, hill, or tower of rock in view, then you could safely place your bet that it had caves carved into it. The caves were used as storage rooms, stables, entire homes, beautiful carved churches, and even huge underground cities! And many of these man-made curiosities are carved into geological wonders - "fairy chimneys," towers of stone topped with mushroom shaped caps.
|Some of the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia|
|Mount Hasan on the right seen from through out bus window.|
These ancient volcanoes were responsible for the unique geography of Cappadocia.
The inhabitants of this region have been carving dwellings into these soft stones since pre-historic times. The Hittites had their capital in this region from about 1600 to 1100 B.C. During the years of the Roman empire, Cappadocia enjoyed status as an independent tributary nation, until becoming a province of Rome under Tiberius in 17 A.D. Cappadocia's caves served as hiding places for early Christians during the years of Roman prosecution, but when Emperor Constantine established Christianity as the religion of the Byzantine Empire, the caves became the perfect ready-made spots for early churches.
The happy result of this geography and history created a unique and fascinating corner of the world that quickly became one of my favorite destinations in all of our travels. The excitement I felt seemed to flow through the entire group as we piled out of the bus to snap our first photos of the cave dwellings and valleys below.
|Our tour group gets our first look at the caves of Cappadocia|
|Ancient cave dwellings sit side by side with the newer towns.|
|The town below is almost invisible where it nestles in between the towers of tufa rock.|
|A good omen for our visit to Cappadocia!|
No evil thoughts could penetrate this barrier of nazar boncugu!
|Cappadocia Estates hotel - our cave home for the next three nights.|
|Rob at the entrance to our room.|
|Rob in the sitting room of our hotel.|
|Joan enjoys the luxurious furnishings of the room...|
|And the huge spa tub!|
|A light fixture hangs from the carved stone.|
|Sharon and Ben in the entrance of the Old Greek House.|
|Balcony over the entrance. Photo by Susan Earley.|
The Old Greek House was built as a home in the 1800's by a Greek artist, but was purchased by the current family in 1938. It has been a hotel since the 1990's. It is still owned by the family that purchased it when the Greek-Turkish exchange took place, and the wife, Emine, does the cooking for the restaurant. We enjoyed a bountiful dinner and good conversation under the brightly painted ceilings of the restaurant, then headed up the hill to our cozy cave.
|Jim and Jane|
|Allen, Patty, and Susan|
|Peng, Bobby, Dave, Cindy, Nancy, Jean, and Matthew|
|The mascot of The Old Greek House greeted us at every visit.|
Naturally, my animal-loving husband made friends!
Our real Cappadocia adventures would start tomorrow - but it was already clear that we were in for an amazing few days!