Turkey: Adventure on Another Planet
If you ever find yourself wandering through Turkey, there are plenty of wild destinations that you won’t want to miss. But one that makes your mouth drop open as you enter is a region called Cappadocia. This miraculous area is so wild that it was used as another planet in Star Wars. Cappadocia is an area in the center of Turkey made up of dozens of petite towns, which thrive on tourism. Although Cappadocia is simply a quaint place to visit, it is most noted for the landscape that engulfs its visitors.
Stone structures beside a road in Cappadocia
The miraculous scenery is made up of stone structures called “fairy chimneys.” Their story of creation goes like this: thousands of years ago, three volcanoes erupted, each spewing a different type of lava. The first is called tufa, which is a softer rock. The second, which formed a layer above the tufa, is basalt, a much stronger rock; the basalt has protected the weaker tufa throughout time. Over thousands of years however, wind and erosion have created cone-shaped structures made of tufa that tower throughout each village. The basalt is still on top of some of the structures, and it creates a mushroom-esque shape. The combination of the two stones is called a “fairy chimney.”
But we still haven’t reached the weirdest part. Throughout history, different groups, including the Pagans and the Romans, inhabited the region defending it from other attackers who were looking to control the region of Cappadocia, a major trading center at the time. So, they got creative and decided to build cities underneath the ground in the soft tufa rock. The tufa is perfect because it is soft enough to dig through, but it has not collapsed after thousands of years. The different people living there built as many as 300 cities; today, historians assume that all of their cities are connected.
Tourists can even visit part of these underground cities. Some of the cities are even eleven stories beneath the ground, and visitors can see seven of the eleven. The people who designed the cities can easily be called geniuses. They developed dozens of defense methods against attackers. In addition, the architects created many ways for thousands of people to live safely for long periods of time. In terms of defense, the hallways connecting each part of the city are only narrow enough for one person to fit through at a time, so that an opposing group would be weakened. They also created enormous round doors that could easily be put in place from the inside, but they were impossible to move from the outside. The people even designed an acoustic system that allowed people on different levels of the city to whisper and hear each other perfectly. This was important if an attacking group ever came close enough to defeating them, the defenders could communicate to develop a successful escape plan.
Narrow hallway in an underground city
When it came to staying alive beneath the ground for long periods of time, the designers were concerned about everything from food quantities to the sanitation of their cities. The temperature in the underground cities is perfect for storing food; it is cool but not freezing. When exploring the underground cities today, it is a much-needed break from the constant heat and humidity outside. However, many of the rooms in the underground world have a musty stench that is naturally left over from thousands of people living and visiting the rooms; there is little space for the fresh air to arrive, consequently some people feel claustrophobic down in the depths of the rock.
When visiting Turkey, Cappadocia is a region of unexpected sights. The history stories and beautiful, outrageous views are a once in a lifetime experience. It will truly feel like an adventure on another planet.
View overlooking Cappadocia
Sarah Nelson is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.
All photos courtesy and copyright Sarah Nelson