Cappadocia is a region in central Turkey known for its unique landscape. In all of my travels, I have never seen anything else quite like it! The landscape is the result of volcanic activity millions of years ago and erosion. Tuff (sometimes called tufa) is a rock made from consolidated volcanic ash and it can be found throughout the Cappadocia region. Tuff is a soft rock making it very susceptible to erosion. Over the course of millions of years the tuff has eroded into spectacular pillars that are commonly referred to as fairy chimneys.
This soft rock is also very easy to carve. The people of this region put the rock to good use and they carved out houses, churches and monasteries. The winters in this region could be very harsh, but the people learned that when their homes were carved into the rock they were well insulated against the elements and automatically maintained the perfect room temperature.
The Göreme Open Air Museum is one of the most popular tourist sites in Cappadocia. The complex contains more than 30 churches carved into the rock dating back to the 9th century. Many of the churches had beautiful frescoes painted inside, but there were photography restrictions so I wasn’t able to take pictures of most of them.
Interesting Fact: The cubby holes in the photo below are not places to store your shoes before entering your rock house. They are actually places for pigeons to roost. Apparently pigeon poop is the best fertilizer (or so I am told) so they intentionally carved out these spaces for the birds so they could collect “their offerings.”