Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cappadocia (Part 2)

In response to some of the questions regarding the history of the area of Cappadocia ... the earliest record of inhabitants goes back to 1700 BC. However, it was around 303-308 AD that the Christians began using the area to hide from the Roman soldiers. The hidden valleys and soft volcanic rock made it the prefect place to create places of worship and to be secure from pagan Roman soldiers. We were able to see many churches with frescos underground (although we weren't allowed to take pictures in these locations.)

Some authorities suggest that the underground cities were created during the earlier period, as storage areas, by the Hittites and were much later extended and brought into use as refuges for Christians persecuted by the Romans.

Some estimate that there are as many as 300 underground "cities" in the Cappadocia region. The dramatic landscape of Cappadocia is formed from rock which is easy to work (and actually gets easier the deeper you go) but which dries to a hard surface resistant enough to allow the excavation of wide rooms with horizontal ceilings. Trees producing wood suitable for building use are scarce in Cappadocia (and apparently always have been).

It is unlikely that the underground cities were ever intended as permanent, or even long stay, settlements, but they were clearly built to withstand attack and could support large numbers of people and their domestic animals, for long periods of time. The urban organization was very complex, and there was probably always work in progress. Extensive networks of passages, tunnels, stepped pits and inclined corridors link family rooms and communal spaces where people would meet, work and worship. The cities were complete with wells, chimneys for air circulation, niches for oil lamps, stores, water tanks, stables and areas where the dead could be placed until such time as conditions on the surface would allow their proper disposal. Most importantly, carefully balanced moving stone doors, resembling mill stones, were devised to quickly block the corridors in the event of an attack. Of course, these doors operated from one side only!

All right. So enough history. On to the rest of our trip!

The view from the top of our hotel to the bottom. Amazingly beautiful!


More pictures of our beautiful hotel.

Eating breakfast on the terrace. I wish I got a picture of the breakfast. So many meats and cheeses -- and even chocolate cake!

Another view of the area surrounding our hotel.

Breakfast at the hotel.

JB really was having a good time -- even though it doesn't look like it here!

Daddy and boy #2.

After we left our hotel, we headed to an underground city for a tour. Elijah fell asleep in the bus so JB opted to stay back and chill with him while we looked around at a ton of underground churches and buildings.

These holes were used for pigeons. They would collect the pigeon poop for fertilizer.

One of the most famous places in the world to take a balloon ride is in Cappadocia. Both Joan and my Mom said that next time we come, they are going to do this!

Isaac chilling with the ladies. He got flocked by one school group right after this picture -- lots of pinching and kissing. Unfortunately they didn't understand him when he said, "No thank you!"

So cool.

Lots of walking with steep hills.

After that stop, we were on to a pottery shop.

And then a jewelery shop.

The boys were incredibly popular at the jewelry shop and really loved the men who worked there. Here they are hearing a story about a turtle from one of the guys who worked there.

They thought this story was incredibly fascinating. Man. Elijah needs a haircut.

Then the jewelers took the boys out to meet their guard dog. This guy standing by the boys was a huge hit with Isaac. Isaac really took to him.

We found lots of rocks in Isaac's pockets (and even one in the washing machine.) They are becoming little boys putting all kinds of things away for later.

A view of our sites on our way to lunch.

After that it was time for the three hour bus ride back home. Stickers and books saved the day (I brought our DVD player but forgot to recharge it at home and you couldn't plug it into a 220 at the hotel.)

Elijah entertaining the bus on the way home.

Silly boy!
While the weekend was exhausting, we had a wonderful time and were so glad we took the time to show this area both to our family and to ourselves! I know we'll visit Cappadocia again during our years in the Middle East.

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