Cappadocia is a region making up present-day Nevșehir Province in central Turkey. It was part of the Hittite Empire from the early 6th Century BC until around 1750 BC.  Later the Persians ruled for over 200 years, bringing a more permanent system of government and more religious freedom.  One fact that we heard several times is that Cappadocia is actually a Persian word that means “land of the well bred horses.”  Cappadicians established good relations with the Roman Empire and remained independent until 17 AD when it finally came under Roman rule.  Following Roman rule, the area became part of the Byzantine and then Ottoman Empires.

Because of the independent and welcoming culture of the area, it became a place for early Christians to escape persecution. Cappadocia sits on a plateau made of soft sedimentary rock that provides beautiful landscape and shelter.  Throughout the centuries Cappadocians have carved houses and churches into the rock.  Even today many residents of Cappadocia still live in homes carved into the rock.

Cappadocia is a fascinating place thanks to its rich history and beautiful valleys and rock formations.  The number of rock and cave dwellings is amazing.  We could have explored the area for a month and still not have seen the majority of interesting sites.  One of the most interesting aspects of Cappadocia is the estimated 2,000 churches that were carved into rock by the early Christians of the area.  The churches were richly decorated with frescos and carvings.  Unfortunately most of the frescos have been destroyed.

The majority of our time here was spent hiking and exploring the different valleys and churches. We spent a whole day in Rose and Red Valleys alone and still didn’t see probably half of the churches there.