The region of Cappadocia is bordered by Mt. Erciyes to the east and Mt. Hasan to the west. These formerly active volcanoes were instrumental in creating the strange topography that Cappadocia is known for. Three million years ago, eruptions spewed out tons of ash that settled and hardened into a soft rock called tuff. Other eruptions covered the tuff with layers of lava, which cooled into basalt, a much harder rock. In the millennia after these eruptions, wind and rain eroded much of the tuff, leaving the harder basalt. The “Fairy Chimneys” here are cones of tuff topped by caps of basalt.
Tuff is easy for people to carve, and they have been doing just that since at least the time of the Hittites in 1600 BC. Cave-homes were carved from rock cones, their entrances hidden by stones. During the Christian era, underground monasteries and churches were dug out and decorated with frescoes that remain bright even today.
PUBLISHED: July 22, 2013