The mysterious open-air museum of caves and underground cities.
Cappadocia is Turkey's most attractive region on its history, its uniqueness and the strangeness of its lunar landscape. It is considered to be one of the wonders of the world and for centuries it has protected churches, mosques, frescoes, mosaics and paintings of Byzantine art.
When the Hittites lived here, Cappadocia covered a larger area but it is now a triangle bordered by the cities of Kayseri, Nevsehir and Nigde in the center of the Anatolian plateau.
The history of Cappadocia begins with the eruption of two volcanoes, Mt. Melendiz near cito of Nigde and Mt. Erciyes near city of Kayseri. Lava surpassed the entire region changing the landscape.
In the course of millennia rain and wind eroded the tufa creating unusual valleys, fissures, canyons and bizarrely shaped cones. However the terrain was plentiful and it was settled by people who reached it by sea. Dwellings were hollowed out from the rock and when the first Christians reached; churches and even rough-hewn monasteries were built.
Traditional Cappadocia houses and dovecotes formed by carving into stones are exhibiting the singularity of the Cappadocia region. These houses are built on the feet of the mountain via rocks or cut stones. Rock, which is the only building material of the region, as it is very soft after quarry due to the structure of the region, can be easily treated but after contact with air it strengthen and turns into a very strong building material. Due to being bountiful and easy to process of the used material, regional unique stonework is improved and change into an architectural tradition. Materials of neither courtyard nor house doors is wooden. Upper parts of the doors built with vaults are decorated with designed ivy or rose-like ornament.
Numerous hermits and ascetics lived in forgotten valleys. Under the Byzantines who were protectors of those leading lives, Cappadocia became a bulwark against attacks by Arabs and the population dug out caves and built entire underground cities with massive stone gates to protect themselves.
After the Ottoman conquest these houses in the rock were used as stables and storehouses.
In 1992, scientific research of the Civelek Cave in Nevsehir conducted by Turkish and Italian scientists dated the area to 8000 B.C.
Cappadocia was a meeting point for all religions, where Christians and Muslims lived together in harmony for years. In 1985, UNESCO announced that the region should be protected due to its excellent ethnographic geography.
The above ground cultural, natural and historical areas in the region are Urgup, Avanos, Goreme and Uchisar, where three cities, four historical and nine natural areas are registered with the state. During the Neolithic age the Hittites, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans all embraced the Cappadocia region and the total number of mosques, churches, chapels, monasteries and inns that remain today is 214. The Nevsehir Archeology and Ethnography Museum possesses 15,737 items of valuable history on display that include 8,795 coins from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras, two epitaphs and 107 and 93 handwritten books.