Cappadocia, by Turhan Can

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Cappadocia, by Turhan Can

Postby admin » Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:21 am

Part 1 of 2

Cappadocia (Excerpt from "Turkey, Gate to the Orient")
by Turhan Can




Cappadocia has an indescribably beautiful and interesting landscape, where snow and rain, wind and sun hollowed out tuffs, and formed thousands of pyramid-like formations which changed the nature of the whole region to a bizarre and dreamlike landscape. 50 km south of this area is the former volcano, 3,916m high Mount Erciyes (previously Argaeus). The violent eruption of these volcanoes caused sedimentation of enormous ash layers in the area of these mountains. These ash masses were consolidated later, during which time, rivers and brooks gouged grooves which were buried in the tuff layers; at the same time, forests extended to the south coast of the Kizilirmak (Halys) river. Sometimes the cones are scattered here and there, sometimes they are pressed into tight masses with sharp points. Some of them wear a hat of harder stone which can better resist erosion.

The beauty and the geographical charm of the landscape is also a part of its interesting history. At the base of rock walls or inside the cones, homes and churches were hewn out. Earlier, it was a place of refuge for the Christian population of Anatolia before the invasion of the Arabs (7th-13 centuries A.D.). It is known that the apostle St. Paul was in great need of a refuge because he was being pursued, and he established the first Christian colony in this region with his friends.

Open air museum at Goreme


When the Christians settled in cappadocia, St. Basil from Kayseri established a cloister, and had missionaries educated in order to disseminate the religion. Thus, the first cloister was established in Goreme valley under the leadership fo St. Basil. Earlier, Goreme was an important rock settlement, but people left the area a long time ago. In the cones and rock walls the cloister order had their homes and churches. Today, an open-air museum has been made in this region and we shall visit it.


The first floor of the nunnery served as a cellar, a kitchen and a living-room. On the third floor there was a church, established in the 11th century. The remaining three floors served as a place of refuge. Opposite the nunnery stood a monastery.

Elmali Church (Apple Church) 11th century.

This is the smallest and the most recent of the pillared churches in the region. It has a cross-form ground plan. Four columns support the dome. All sections were hewn from rock. The important frescoes are: Christ Pantocrator, the archangel, the nativity, the transfiguration, the raising of Lazarus, the journey to Jerusalem, the last supper, the betrayal of Christ, the crucifixion, and the entombment.

The Church of St. Barbara 11th century.

This small church with two columns was carved on a rock block like Elmali-Church. Its frescoes depict St. Theodore, St. George with the dragons, and the flight to Egypt. The decorations in symbolic red are from the iconoclastic period.

Goreme Valley

Rock Churches of Goreme

Yilanli Church (Snake Church) 11th century.

This small tomb-church consists of a long vaulted nave and a low ceiling. Across the entrance, a Christ figure with the founder of the chapel has been depicted in fresco form. On the right wall we see St. Basil and St. Thomas. Close to them is St. Onouphrios, the hermit, whose genitals were hidden by foliage. According to the legend, this female saint was changed into a man. On the left wall Saint Theodore is shown struggling with the snake (the name of the church derives from this) and Emperor Constantine and his mother Helen are shown supporting the cross in their hands.

Constantine and Helen (Yilanli Kilise)

Karanlik Church (Dark Church) 11th century.

This church is the best example of 11th century Byzantine art; it is also the best preserved one of the region. The only source of light is an opening in the vestibule, by means of which the frescoes could be kept in good condition. The fresco scenes are: Christ Pantocrator, the betrayal of Christ, the nativity, the last supper, the crucifixion, the apprehension of Christ, the raising of Lazarus, the baptism of Christ, four evangelists, and others.

Christ Pantocrator (Karanlik Kilise)

Carikli Church (Sandal Church)

This church has a cross form, and it is divided by two columns and two corner buttresses. It can be easily recognized by its iron staircase. The church derived its name from the footprints on the floor. The themes of the frescoes are taken from the New Testament and they are similar to those in the Elmali and Karanlik churches.

Tokali Church (Church-with-a-Shield)

This is to the right of the main road to Avcilar and is one hundred metres from the parking place. This church is the largest rock-church of Cappadocia, and with its frescoes it is the most important one of the area. Its name was derived from a shield which was once hanging from the ceiling. The shield does not exist any more, but its place, where once it was attached, is still noticeable. The church has a long vestibule which is connected to the nave with a barrel-vault. At the eastern end of this nave there are four columns connected by arches. Beyond these columns there is an elevated corridor with one large apse and two small apses.

The frescoes have figures similar to the other rock-churches. Here one can see the termination scenes of St. Basil, the saint who was considered a martyr, bishops and monks.

The Betrayal of Christ (Karanlik Kilise)


On the right of the Goreme-Avanos road, lies Cavusin village. It was newly established after the collapse of a slope. In the old Cavusin village which is partly buried, collapsed slope, stands the Church of St. John the Baptist, which is the oldest one of the region, dating from the 8th century. It can be easily noticed from the street with its frescoes and iron staircase. It consists of a nave with a barrel-vault and three apses. The themes of its frescoes were taken from the New Tetament.

Church of Cavusin


This valley is one of the most picturesque corners of Cappadocia. Because of the dilapidated condition of the rocks, a New Zelve had to be set up nearby in 1952.

The old Zelve village was carved in a narrow valley in the steep mountains, in rocks. Once, the village served as a hiding place and was an important church and cloister centre. This village (old Zelve) was almost totally destroyed, but the remains can be visited today.

The most important churches are" Uzumlu kilise (Church-with-Grapes) and Geyikli kilise (Church-with-Deer). In these churches mostly cross motifs were used.



Near Zelve lies the vineyard of Pasabag, which is called Monks' Valley. The name was derived from some cones carved in tuff stones which stand apart. Some of them split into smaller cones in their upper sections, in which stylites and hermits once hid. The hermitage of Simeon monks was also here.



--Casa Battlo, "Antonio Gaudi, Master Architect," by Juan Bassegoda Nonell, photography by Melba Levick



Avanos is situated along both sides of the Kizilirmak (Halys), the longest river in Turkey (1,335km). In the past this small town was called Vanessa, and it is famous for its pottery made of the local red clay. The most important industries apart from pottery are hand-knotted carpets and viniculture.

Potter in Avanos


Urgup lies at the foot of steep rocks, which were once thoroughly inundated by people making their homes in them. The highest homes were later deserted, and the others now serve as sheds. According to 10th century documents, Urgup was the bishops' residence of the Middle Ages. The route Urgup-Ortahisar is a picturesque corner with innumerable rock-pyramids partly grouped together and partly with tuff caps.


Rock Formation of Urgup


This place also lies at the foot of a rock-block shape with a lot of rock-hollows. The first inhabitants of the village probably lived in these hollows, which are used as storerooms nowadays. In the area near Cambazli Church there is a cross-domed chapel and Harim Church, which is now used as a shed for equipment.



This place resembles a castle from a distance. The village lies at the root of the rock-blocks, which are perforated in the usual manner. From the top there is a magnificent panorama of the plateau. In the afternoon, the light is ideal for panoramic pictures.



Nevsehir was formed on the western end of the famous tuff landscape of Cappadocia. The old name of this central Anatolian city was Nissa and it had a population of 150,000. It lies on the slopes of a hill, on whose summit rises the citadel of the Seljuks.

Kursunlu camii (Mosque-with-Lead), which was built in 1726 by the Grand Vizier Damat Ibrahim Pasa, the citadel of the Seljuks, and Kaya camii (Rock Mosque) are all worth seeing.
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Re: Cappadocia, by Turhan Can

Postby admin » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:11 am

Part 2 of 2



This is situated 20 km to the south of Nevsehir. Like the other subterranean cities it was a place of refuge for Christians before the Arab invasion. The air supply was drawn through ventilating chimneys. In this city of eight levels, each level was connected to each other by narrow corridors. To subdivide the layers, millstones-round stone blocks with a diameter of 1-1,5m were used. The length of the passages totalled approximately 30km. Probably this subterranean city gave shelter to 15,000 people.

One can see amongs other things: bedrooms, a lot of passages, a church, a meeting hall, and storage rooms for food.


Plan of the underground city of Derinkuyu

Wheel doors


Derinkuyu is the second subterranean city, and lies 10km to the south of Kaymakli. It was discovered by chance in 1968. Pre-Christians would have settled here, perhaps the Hittites. Up until the present, eight layers have been excavated. The city is 55m deep and has a surface area of 2,500 sq m. Probably 30 more subterranean cities exist in the area. Derinkuyu would have been the largest one with its 10,000 inhabitants. The city is subdivided in the following manner: On the first layer are a bedroom, a dining room, a kitchen, a wine cellar and a stable. On the second layer there is a church with an altar. On the third and fourth layers are kitchens, a place of refuge, a mission school, an ordnance depot and a baptismal font. The city has 52 air shafts, with a depth of 80m. The bottom section served as a water depot.

HACI BEKTAS - 20 km from Mucur

The village in which stands the cloister (tekke) of Bektasi Dervish orders, is named after it. The founder Haci Bektas Veli, lived in the 13th century. His orders started in the 15th century. The cloister in which Haci Bektas himself lies, can be called the most important cloister of the orders. Here one can also find the only remaining Bektasi cloister. Followers of the orders wear white caps. These orders used to have close relations with the Janisseries. Followers of the orders believe in the transmigration of souls. They confess their sins to their superiors and obtain absolution. Their modern ideology is based on loving individuals and peace. Polygamy and divorce are frowned upon.

The museum of Haci Bektas Veli consists of three courtyards:

In the first courtyard there is a fountain "Ucler Cesmesi," a bath and the laundry of the cloister.

In the centre of the second courtyard stands a large fountain surrounded by a guest-house, a kitchen and a display hall.

On the right side of the third courtyard lies the museum-like and decorated mausoleum of Haci Bektas Veli (Pir evi). At the right and left of the doorway there, superiors of the orders were buried. The sarcophagus of Haci Bektas Veli (Huzur-u-Pir) is in a room with a marvelous dome painting.

Mausoleum (turbe)

Entrance of the museum


Sarcophagus of Haci Bektas

Dome of the mausoleum


On April 23rd 1920, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk convened the first Turkish National Assembly in Ankara. Since October 14th 1923, Ankara has been the capital of the Turkish Republic. Ankara was established neither at the sea, nor on an important river. In those days, the distinguishing feature about Ankara was its being in the heart of Anatolia. In about six to ten years, it developed from a small unimportant village to a metropolis with a population of 3,5 million. Today the city has a European atmosphere with its broad boulevards, squares, parks and modern buildings. All state institutions such as the educational system administration, state opera, ministries and parliament are concentrated here.

In Ankara there is a dry climate with average temperatures of 23C in summer and -8C in winter. The city is famous in Europe for its beautiful Angora cats and its high quality mohair obtained from Angora goats.

The old city of Ankara


According to excavation findings, the citadel hill was inhabited in the Stone Age. After hte fall of the Hittite Empire in 1200 B.C. Ankara fell into the hands of the Phrygians, who established a big city to the south of the hill.

When Alexander the Great marched to the south through Asia Minor, cutting the famous knot in Gordion, he also captured Ankara. After his death, the city came under the authority of the Seleucids. In 278 B.C. the Celts (Galatians) came to Anatolia and made Ankara their capital, calling it Galatia. In 25 B.C. Galatia was a Roman province. With the Romans, the best period of this old settlement began. In this age also, the Temple of Augustus, the thermal baths and the column of Julian were built. Under the rule of the Byzantines Ankara became a metropolis. In the years 314 and 358 A.D. councils were formed here. In the 6th and 7th century A.D. the sovereignty of the citiy changed between the Persians and the Arabs. Later, Crusaders captured the city. In 1071 the city passed into the hands of the Seljuks, and later on the city was captured by Ottoman Turks in 1360.

Places worth seeing

The citadel

This dates back to the time of Emperor Augustus (1st century A.D.). It was restored many times in later centuries. Ancient remains and inscriptioins are still recognizable on the walls. There are residential premises in the citadel. The Alaeddin mosque is easy to see in the narrow streets.

Museum of Anatolian Civilisations

Museum of Anatolian Civilisations: 1. Early Stone period (Palaeolithic); 2. Late Stone period (Neolithic); 3. Chalcolithic; 4. Bronze Age; 5. Assyrian colonies; 6. Old-Hittit Age; 7. Hittit-Empire Age; 8. Neo-Hittit Age; 9. Phrygia; 10. Classic period

The museum consists of valuable objects from sites discovered in Anatolia. The collection in this museum is the most important one in Ankara from the point of view of its historical and art-historical exhibits. It is a unique museum, having a rich collection of Hittite exhibits. This world famous museum is in a restored bazaar building (Mustafa Pasa Bedesten) dating from the 15th century, and in Kursunlu Han (khan).

The works of art are exhibited in two sections: In the middle hall, items in stone can be found, and in the side halls are small finds exhibited in chronological order.

Our tour starts with the display of exhibits from the Early Stone Age (Palaeolithic), situated on the right of the entrance. Here, finds from the cave of Karain near Antalya, including the cranial bones of Neanderthal human beings and others, can be seen.

We continue with an exhibition from the later Stone Age (Neolithic), with human and bull head reliefs, mural paintings and finds from the oldest settlements of Anatolia (Hacilar and Catalhoyuk 6th-5th century B.C.).

Apart from these, there are finds from the earlier Bronze Age (3000 B.C.-1950 B.C.), grave finds from emperors and princes' graves of West and Central Anatolia, old Assyrian cuneiform writing, seal cylinders and gold jewels from Kadesh (Kultepe).

In the next hall are Hittite works from Alacahoyuk, Bogazkoy (Hattusa) and Corum. The important works in the following rooms are from the Lydians, Urartians, and Phrygians.

Our tour ends here with models of Classical Age altars. The middle hall is crowned by ten domes resting on four pillars. The big Hittite sculptures of their greatest era and the late Hittite period (1450 B.C.-700 B.C.) are intersting. Other works to see are the orthostat reliefs from palaces and temples, the high relief of the weather god Teshub from the royal gate in Hattusa, the charioteer, and the goddess Cybele on a lion, are the most beautiful examples of Hittite art.

Pot in the form of an animal (museum)

Mausoleum of Ataturk (Anit Kabir)

Mausoleum of Ataturk

The construction of this colossal mausoleum was begun in 1944 and it was completed in 1953. The designer of the mausoleum is the Turkish architect Emin Onat. A 260m long street leads to the courtyard. It is planted with shady trees brought from various regions of the country and from foreign countries. It is also flanked with lions sculpted in neo-Hittite style. The stairs on the left of this courtyard lead into the tomb with the sarcophagus of Ataturk. The mausoleum is surrounded by an arcade with square columns. The walls of the hall are covered with red marble plates and the ceiling has a gold mosaic with Turkish ornamentation. On the right facade of the mausoleum is an extract taken from the famous speech given by Ataturk on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the republic. On the left hand side we read his message to the youth of the nation.

On the opposite side of the mausoleum is the sarchophagus of Ismet Inonu (1884-1974), the second president of turkey, and the closest military friend of Ataturk.

From the mausoleum site there is a beautiful panorama of Ankara.

The Ethnographical Museum

This was built in 1925 in Ottoman style. Between 1938-1953 the mortal frame of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk rested here. When his mausoleum was finished, he was carried there on November 10th 1953, on the fifteenth year of his death. The museum consists of old Turkish art objects such as national costumes, textiles, copperwork, wood-engraving, and embroidery. In the courtyard beside the tombs there are stone sarcophagi from the Seljuk period.

The Augustus Temple (Temple of Augustus and Rome)

Temple of August

This stands directly near Haci Bayram Mosque. This ancient temple now in ruins, is from the 2nd century B.C. and it was dedicated to the Phrygian divinity called Men. On the inner walls of the hall an engraving of the "Testament of Augustus" carved in stone can be seen. The inscription, written in Greek and Latin, gives information about the achievements of Emperor Augustus.

The Roman Bath (Roma hamami)

This dates from the 3rd century B.C. and gives us a good idea about the installation of old Roman baths. There was an underground heating system, where the hot water used to flow under the floor. You can still see the remains of pipes and channels.

Haci Bayram Mosque (Haci Bayram camii)

Haci Bayram Mosque

This is situated near the ruins of the Augustus temple. It was built in the 15th century in honour of the city saint of Ankara, Haci Bayram Veli.

The mausoleum (turbe) of Haci Bayram

This was built next to the mosque. It is a place of pilgrimage for Moslems.

Arslanhane Mosque (Arslanhane camii)

This was built in 1290. It is also called Ahiserafettin camii. It takes its name from the marble lions in its courtyard. During the construction of the mosque, numerous Roman and Byzantine columns and capitals were used.

The Column of Julian

This is 15m high and dates from the 4th century A.D. It is known popularly as "Belkis minaret" or the "Column of Queen Saba." It has small inscriptions. The column was erected next to the Augustus temple.

Genclik Park

Modern Ankara
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