Cappadocia is a rocky region near the center of Turkey. It is a region of sweeping vistas and gorgeous scenery. Most of these scenes are due to the nature of the rock in the region. The rock of Cappadocia is very soft. It has been eroded over centuries into valleys like the Ihlara Gorge and scenes like these below. The flow of the water is almost visible in the shape of the rocks.
Natural and Unnatural Rock Carving
Water and wind are strong forces over time. They shape all kinds of rock into all kinds of shapes. The rock in Cappadocia is however also soft enough for much weaker forces like man to make a mark. The region’s main town of Goreme is well known for “cave hotels”, where the rooms are carved into the rock itself.
It isn’t just modern man and his desire for attractive hotel rooms that carved this region for his purposes. On our daytrip around the area we went to an underground city carved over the millenniums to house many thousands of people 8 stories deep. We saw churches and monasteries carved into the rock as well.
Look closer at the panoramas and you will see even smaller dwellings for even smaller creatures.
Yeah, wrong direction. I said look closer, but isn’t the scenery pretty? Look closer and further down.
Better. Right direction, but still not close enough. Though even at this view you can see the holes I am talking about, but check out a little closer.
Here we go. The valley we have been looking at is called “pigeon valley” and was both the first and last stop on our van tour. The valley is named mostly based on these holes that I have been pointing out.
Our guide explained that these were pigeon holes carved from the rock. The idea being to attract pigeons to roost in the holes and collect their guano (bird poop). The region is blessed with wonderful vistas and soft rock, but not really so much soil. So the pigeon poop was used to fertilize the gardening plots the people did have.
Being Pigeon Holed
Although all of these pictures are from the beautiful late day sun stop at pigeon valley, they are certainly not confined to that one valley. We saw holes like this in Ihlara as well.
This next shot is from our balloon flight the day following the van trip. I believe we were in Rose Valley and still I found what look like pigeon cubbies.
Soft Rock – Rock Hard
This view is looking toward the top end of Pigeon Valley in the morning of our van trip. It shows again the flowing curves of the soft rock as it has been weathered over the years.
Pictures of balloons over penis shaped rock formations is pretty much the poster picture of the region. The van trip we took ended up in different valleys mostly, but I did catch a few of the penis rocks.
The formation comes from the way the rock pillars are weathered away. The volcanic layering process that prepared Cappadocia for such scenery left some layers softer than others. If the mix is just right, you get the bulb topped rock pillars that evoke the 12 year old giggling reflex.
Are you giggling?
Cappadocia is a fascinating place. The rock formations and valleys feel almost alien moonscape-ish in one minute and remind me of the American Wild West in the next. It is totally worth a few days here.