Thursday Salute to Originals: The Cave Dwellings of Cappadocia

While we use modern designs, materials, and techniques to entice your guests, today we would like to pay tribute to some of the ancient originators of stone design and lighting.

Cave dwellings accounted for some of the earliest human settlements and many communities around the world today still dig into rock to find living space. Few though, can rival the breadth, depth, and beauty of Cappadocia. This region of central Turkey, a twelve-hour bus ride from Istanbul, finds itself at the cross-roads of Europe and Asia. Conquered by Hittites, Persians, Alexander the Great, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Turks, the inhabitants often sought safety in the numerous and interesting geological formations that dot the landscape. Composed of soft, “living” rock, these formations have housed living spaces, temples, churches, mosques, markets, store-house, and fortifications with influences from the myriad of cultures that came to call this area home. The town of Ortahisar, perhaps the most well-known and photographed, has an ancient Roman fortress at the pinnacle of a rock mound that dominates the surrounding area.

Fairy chimneys, called “hoodoos” by geologists, account for the most interesting. With hard rock protecting softer rock below, they have been eroded by wind to form remarkable spires into which people have carved “pigeon-caves.” These caves look like pigeon coops when seen from a distance and allow for secure multi-level living areas. These formations can be found throughout the world, like Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, but few areas can rival the Göreme National Park of Cappadocia in variety and number.

Besides carving into the sides of mountains, canyons, and fairy chimneys, many communities dug vertically down into the ground. Many of the early Christian converts fleeing Roman persecution found themselves sheltered in underground havens with hidden, gated openings and rarely saw the surface. Subsequently these underground cities gained elaborate and well lit lay-outs, some with up to eleven levels like the town of Derinkuyu, complete with homes, retail areas, places of worship, meeting areas, and light-wells. These light-wells brought sunshine and illumination to those underground without the soot and smoke that accompany torches.

Today, with invaders being non-existent, Cappadocia has a thriving tourist industry which emphasizes its natural splendor and diverse cultural history. Balloon-rides, hikes, or simply sitting on a patio all offer the chance to experience the magnificence that surrounds. Contemporary hotels have continued the tradition of cutting into living rock, providing the experience of cave dwelling without sacrificing modern amenities. Well lit rooms lead to amazing restaurants or breath-taking spas and Turkish-baths. A low-population density negates the chance of encountered numbing crowds and the friendly inhabitants promise to make this a trip to remember.

Just don’t go trying to dig into your backyard when you get home in an attempt to emulate this amazing region!

Image credits: Allbestwallpapers, HotelsWorld, Derek Blair Blogspot, Wild Junket