I boarded my bus to Cappadokia much to the displeasure of my guide – frustrated that I wouldn’t stay the night in Selcuk and take his tour to Panakkale (hot springs with extensive calcium pools) and then stay the night there and take another bus to Cappadokia. I’d decided that I would do the nightbus directly to Cappadokia, as it is a 100% unique experience. The foto’s of the Panakkule reminded me of the natural springs in Colorado springs. big calcium and salt formations filled with hot spring mineral water. not so unique. Cappadokia is actually a region not a specific city. I covered about 500km of it by booking two tours and staying the night in Goreme (where the cone houses are) I managed to see around 60% of it. Or at least see the Major parts.

There are three really major sections of Cappadokia to see. The first are the cone shaped houses formed by erosion of ash from the three major volcano’s that last erupted in 3000 BC. The cones, with a basalt cap form the mushroom type of rock formations which have a softer stone underneath. The softer stone yields itself to carving and has been carved into Monasteries, homes, castles, and even a colossal underground city.

The second major thing to see are the Christian churches carved into the valleys following the river. These churches are set into the stone high above in the cliff sides. they are like the cliff dwellings in Arizona but without external building materials, everything is literally carved into the stone.

The final thing to see is the fabled underground city. Consisting of 10 floors, only 10% of is open to the public. With cramped narrow passageways, it is complete with kitchens, stables (underground) secret rooms, giant stone wheels set into the rock as doors and gates… its like a dwarfish castle in real life. hunched over to fit into the tunnels, the deeper we got the smaller they got, a great defensive strategy and a good time for me to work on my lunges and walking squats. At major defensive points the smallest areas of the tunnel opened into large rooms, with the stone door on the small tunnel and then open space for the defenders. At most defenders could live inside the city for 1 month if attacked.

Earlier that day we’d seen the cone houses and monasteries cut into the rock. we’d had a tour of an Onyx refinery which both carved the rock and sold jewelry etc. Onyx is the major stone export of the Cappadokia region. I won an onyx egg (light tan, much like alabaster but with deeper hues). In addition we had free time to run around and explore through the ancient dwellings carved into the rock. unfortunately due to erosion most of the areas are closed due to safety issues, but even so, the area is so huge that there is plenty to see.

We hiked through one of the valleys and got a chance to see the remains of some of the lower churches carved into the valley walls. at the end of our beautiful hike alongside the river, surrounded on each side by cities carved into the cliffs we arrived for lunch. Lunch was excellent, Beef Kabap enjoyed on the riverside with Efes beer and cool shade.

Then we boarded our van and headed for the Underground city.

we entered at the kitchens, and then headed down past the stables and the winery into the dark depths. cold air, orange emergency lighting and the cool breeze from the ventilation shaft accompanied our decent. From the bottom floor (we followed the ventilation shaft down into the city and then around to the church, confession area and temporary cemetery (around my estimation is about 70-100 feet underground) but it was so hard to tell.

We started the long climb out. with the occasional tunnel leading dangerously along the ventilation shaft reminding me of Moria. we found our way out of the City and headed on to our next destination – a panoramic view of that section of Cappadokia.