THE WORLD AROUND US
 
Cappadocia, Turkey: Underground Cities, Cave Churches & Fairy Chimneys      
Today’s The World Around Us will be presented in Turkish, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Hallo, and welcome. Today’s program on The World Around Us brings us to a beautiful place in Turkey called Cappadocia.

Cappadocia is a central Turkish region in Nevşehir province and is known for its exceptional beauty. It also has a rich cultural, historical and spiritual heritage. Let’s go for a guided tour of this special area to find out more.

If we carefully look ahead, we can see different animal figures, newly developing small fairy chimneys in the distance, or like those dolphins climbing towards the mountain. And furthermore, we can see the statue which is likened to Mother Mary by a great majority of our domestic and foreign visitors. This is a beautiful valley visited by hundreds of thousands, millions of tourists every year. What we mentioned as the fairy chimneys are those formations we see over there, the formations in a conical shape with a hat on top, chimney rock.

The earliest settlers in the Cappadocia region saw the formations, which are quite different from their surrounding geographical appearance. They concluded that these rocks could not be made by humans depending on their geographical knowledge. And thinking that these could not form as a result of erosion, they thought that these formations were chimneys made by fairies and named it accordingly: fairy chimneys.

Today, a few stories concerning the fairies are being narrated in Cappadocia region. According to one of these stories, thousands of years earlier, fairies and humans used to reside here together, yet could not get along with each other at all. At that time, a fairy and a young man fell in love with each other, but because humans and fairies have conflicts, they objected to this marriage and at the end, the humans made a plan to get rid of all fairies.

So they organized a fake wedding ceremony and invited all fairies. The plan of the humans was to kill all fairies arriving at the banquet during the wedding ceremony. No wonder, they organized a fascinating wedding ceremony and all fairies were invited; however, just at the moment they were about to kill the fairies, the fairies noticed the set up and they all turned into pigeons and flew away. From that day on, hundreds of thousands, millions of pigeons can be seen across the Cappadocia region. And human beings, ashamed of what they had done, made houses for the pigeons – that’s to say, the fairies – and took really good care of them.

Cappadocia is a region that was formed as a result of the eruption of volcanic mountains millions of years ago, and these fairy chimneys have formed due to the effects of erosion caused by the rainfall and winds of a million years and survived in their existence up to now. Seven to eight thousand years ago, people living in the Taurus Mountains in the south and Black Sea Mountains in the north migrated to this dried inland sea.

And the most important settlement period in Cappadocia is the post-Hittite period. The name of the Cappadocia region originates from the renowned horses called Kapkatuka used during the Hittite Period. That’s the origin of Cappadocia, is Kapkatuka, which means “horses” in Hittite language. Cappadocia in that period meant the “Land of Beautiful Horses.”

Today, there are more than 100,000 carved rock houses in the Cappadocia region, and once, people used to live in those houses. There are more than 1,000 Greek Orthodox churches. There are Greek Orthodox churches dating back to the 3rd, 11th, 12th centuries and in some places even as near as the 13th century. We can say that Christianity bloomed in Cappadocia. And there are approximately 35, 36 underground cities in our region.

Starting from Hittite period, humans carved rocks and volcanic tuffs with bronze tools and lived in such dwellings during Early Hittite period, Early Bronze Age, namely in the years 3000 BC. However, during Christianity, starting from the 3rd century AD, there was an intensive migratory flow of Christian people into the Cappadocia region. And these people used these underground cities as shelters in order to hide from pagans, Romans and Non-Christian societies here until the mid-1400s.

Yes, now we are at the entrance of this underground city. We see a tandoor on the floor. Whenever the people took refuge in this city, they used to make their bread here.

Here we see a special place built, cleaned and modified for the city to receive daylight. Yes, on our way to the underground cities, we are passing through narrow and long galleries. All floors are insulated from each other by sliding stones, the so-called millstones, Thus, connection between the floors is cut off. So if there is an enemy intrusion in the first floor, they could use here as a shelter and probably sometimes they had to wait here for one week or in some occasions 10 days for the enemy to withdraw from the region.

Now, please follow me, and watch your head! Yes, over here, we see one of the sliding doors. They just look like those stone doors in Indiana Jones movies. These sliding doors were rounded by metallic tools outside and placed into their slots to prevent enemy intrusions. There are amphoras, in which they used to keep linseed oil and sometimes foodstuff. This place was used as store.

Amphora is a type of ceramic pitcher manufactured since 2000 BC. And because of its round bottom, it does not stand on a flat surface. It is placed into a pit on the ground. It is a very functional ceramic household utensil. Sometimes substances like wheat and couscous were also kept in them. Here, dried fruits and vegetables have been kept as well.

Yes, in the old times, between the 3rd century and 15th century, people who lived during Christianity after the birth of Jesus Christ, used to do their prayers in these small rooms when they were in shelter here. And while living here, people did not have a separate section for each family, there used to be communal life. They shared everything with each other and ate together and I think there was a small room for a family, only for sleeping. Yes, this is a cistern.

Here, people collected the water they would need. As I stated earlier, there are tens of underground cities in the Cappadocia region, some of which go deep as low as 50-60 meters below ground. The underground city we are in is not a very deep one. It consists of two to three stories and we are able to go down as deep as 20-25 meters.

Next, we visit Pasabsgi, or Monks Valley, where some of the most beautiful capped fairy chimneys of Cappadocia are found.

Fairy chimneys are composed of three fundamental sections. These are, respectively, cap, neck and body. If you look carefully, you can easily see that the parts of the neck and body are completely separated from the part of the cap. Cap and body are black in color while the neck part is a light, whitish color.

Here, there are houses in the shape of a monastery where the monks lived, and churches where they prayed. As you can see, every day, thousands of tourists visit this place. The most obvious reason for calling this region Monks Valley is because there are houses which were carved into the rocks. Yes, now we are in one of the churches in Monks Valley. As we explained earlier, there are thousands of Greek Orthodox churches in this region. The oldest one of these churches was built in the 5th century and the most recent one in the 13th century.

After our visit to the underground city, now we are at a aboveground cave city, people used to reside in these cave houses up until 50-60 years ago. As we said before, here is Güvercinlik Valley, and if you take a close look around this valley where volcanic tuffs (rocks) are found, you can see rocks in different colors; red, yellow and green. And it is because of the minerals and elements which can be found in the volcanic tuffs. For example, there is a lot of basalt or andesite in the tuff, it becomes black in color. If there is a lot of iron, due to ferrous oxidation that rock becomes red in color, and if there is a lot of copper in the tuff, it creates tuffs greenish in color.

The ingenious design of the underground caves, which once kept the Christians in safety, is a marvel even in modern times!

Right now, we are inside Özlice underground city in the town of Özlice. This underground city has recently been cleaned up by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for the visitors to see. Mr. Ahmet Sivritepe, who is from the town of Özlice that is above this underground city, will inform us regarding the stones that can be found around this underground city. Yes, Mr. Ahmet, What are these used for?

This is used for grinding stalks from the field. These are the millstones used for making bulgur and couscous. This circular stone is used to level and make compact the ground. It is used to flatten and harden the threshing floor.

Over here, we see the basalt stone. Basalt stones, which are eruption streams of volcanic mountains, are hard if they contain silica in them, but there are also soft ones. In the ancient times, the basalt stones were used for making jewelry for women, such as necklaces, rings, and mirrors.

I was born in this house in 1957, and four generations of my family, my ancestors were born here and lived. This is a very beautiful house. It was built as a house during the Seljuk period, and our family lived in this house for four generations. Currently, I am living here as a tenant and want to protect this cultural property. The interior is cool in the summer time and warm in the winter time. It is a very well-planned house with its kitchen and tandoor (oven). Since the Seljuk period, this house has been home to many great families.

There are many fascinating places all over the world that are worth visiting. Cappadocia is definitely one of them. The natural wonders as well as the underground and above-ground cities and caves are truly amazing. May people continue to be inspired by Turkey’s Cappadocia region.

Adventurous viewers, please now stay tuned to Supreme Master Television for Words of Wisdom, after Noteworthy News. May your virtuous deeds be met with the love of the universe.

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