Cappadocia (Turkey)


With a height of 3916 m Erciyes is no small mountain. It is also a visual explanation for the mighty tephra layers that form the landscape of Cappadocia. The eroded slopes of the volcano indicate a long period of dormancy, but a renewal of volcanic activity is possible. The eruptions that, quite literally, deposited Cappadocia, were of a rather big and violent nature and happened a comfortable long time ago.



Some years ago somebody started a business of sightseeing flights in hot-air balloons. The favorable weather conditions and the concentration of tourists turned it into a trademark of Cappadocia. Early in the morning, weather permitting, the sky fills with a good hundred balloons, with some more following in the evening hours. During this time the air is cooler, calmer, and the light is more beautiful.


A rocky outcrop lit by the low sun and framed by trees in the so-called Love Valley looks almost not typical, as other pictures will show.
Balloon In Love Valley


A stretch of land which has withstood erosion up to this day and demonstrates the original height of the brimstone sediments, most of which have already been taken away by water and wind to other places. On the left side is the village of Çavuşin.



The tuff is sturdy yet relatively soft and easy to carve out for building homes. The whole area thus became a settlement; numerous man-made caves are found in the valley's walls. This underground place was equipped with a well, now dry.


Inside of a cave apartment, many of which are not easily accessible or closed. Still, thanks to their sheer number, plenty are left to take a look at.
Well Inside the Rock


Since Christians also settled in the area, many of the caves harbor churches. Ironically, considering the volcanic history of the area, it is like heaven on hell.


Some of the ancient paintings on the walls and ceilings have survived, although many have not. Often a person's face was hacked away by "infidels".
Church Church


All of Cappadocia is dominated by the volcanic deposits thrown out million years ago during large eruptions. The different silica-rich layers come in colors ranging from almost white to gray, yellow to red shades. Volcanism in the area hasn't come to an end yet, although historic activity has not been reported.

Tuff Tuff


The big tuff cones are dwarfed by the walls of tuff in the background.

Sunny Place

Another cave in the evening sun. It would be interesting to know how these dwellings looked like in the past.
Rocks From Inside


A panoramic view from Aktepe Hill, also accessible by car, but how much nicer is it to walk through the valleys up to this point? Erosion is everywhere.

From Aktepe Hill


Along the valleys are pathways that either were created by water streams and by human settlers for traffic. Often these road-like paths lead through tunnels, with beautiful arches of tuff overhead.

Tunnels Tunnels


In these cases water was the main force to excavate the tuff. Both men and water had the same interest in traveling along the valley.

Cave Cave


During winter time many of the cafes are closed. The sunny look betrays the eye. In winter the temperature drops to and below zero in Cappadocia, patches of snow are found in shadowy places.


A forlorn but healthy hen obviously waiting for a taxi.
Cafe Chicken


The town of Uçhisar with its castle-like rock is visible between the walls of the Pigeon Valley. Today this ancient castle is a museum.


At a certain point in the Pigeon Valley another cañon inside the already existing one opens before the visitor. The one problem: There is no way of descending further down the valley and a detour is necessary.
Uchisar Pigeon Valley


A look from a place below Uçhisar, above the Pigeon Valley, in the direction of the town of Göreme.

View at Göreme


Some cones are used for accommodation even today, especially as hotels for tourists. These here are situated in Göreme.


The old town of Çavuşin looks like after a terrorist attack. Tuff is not concrete, and some excavations are based on too optimistic static calculations. To make it worse there was an earthquake in 1939.
Houses in Göreme Cavusin

Variety of Rocks

Northeast of Çavuşin, almost before Paşabace, is a small plateau of white tuff stone with this nice view.


Near Paşabace, is another rather touristic place thanks to the passing road. These columns, however, are on the far side of the spectacle.
Rocks Columns


Much of the erosion is powered by water, even in a dry region like Cappadocia. And water comes as rain from above, giving everything a cone-like shape.


A change between softer and harder layers may disturb the ideal cone shape. And there is also the influence of wind. The cone may be slightly off center towards the main wind direction.
Cones Cones


And why are there cones or columns at all? Right after the eruption a great many fumaroles came into life fed by groundwater and the immense heat of the tuff. The water escaped through channels much alike a network of rivers and led to differences in the structure of the tuff stone, which became a little more resistant in these places.


The columns show a harder layer on top with a cone-like shape, below a softer layer with almost vertical sides, eroding much quicker, but thankfully shielded by its hard top and hence taking on a size similar to its hard top.
Cones Cones


Some cones a kilometer or two east of the Göreme Open Air Museum in the evening light.