Thursday, June 01, 2006


Cappadocia is situated in the heart of Turkey amidst volcanic landscape sculpted by erosion. This is the biblical land of St. Paul where Christians carved churches and dwellings and dug subterranean cities to evade Uralo-Altaic invaders. The unspoilt village of Uchisar at an altitude of 1,300m dominates a breath-taking landscape including fertile valleys where almond, apricot and mulberry trees flourish.

The ancient Kingdom of Cappadocia (Kapadokya) was forever sandwiched between hostile powers laying either side of this East-West Anatolian highway. Conquerors have included the Assyrians, Hittites, Phrygians, Persians, Greeks of Alexander, Romans, Byzantine Emperors, Seljuks and the Ottomans. The inhabitants of Cappadocia therefore, needed not only a home, but a refuge.

There are said to be 200 underground cities, but only four remain open to the public. Christians used these underground dwellings to hide from Muslim enemies, Greeks used them 400BC and possibly Hittites before that.

It was a land of prayer. In the 4th century AD, Bishop Basil of Caesarea (now Kayseri) initiated a monastic Christian centre, remaining so for 1,000 years until the Ottoman conquest of the 15th century. Among the 3,000 rock churches, the soldier is almost as common a figure as the saint.