If I dive into the my earliest memories of what actually lead to my longtime intrigue of Turkey, I would probably place the starting point on an episode of an Australian TV travel show called ‘Getaway’. The particular episode showcased the abandoned Christian monasteries and churches, carved completely within the landscape of Cappadocia.
The landscape of this region, found in Central Turkey, is literally out of this world. So much so that it was considered as a backdrop in past filming of the Star Wars movies.
The truly unique landscape of Cappadocia is the result of ancient volcanic activity in the region. Openings from where the extinct volcanoes once spewed their lava out of became solidified and over the years, the softer soil surrounding them eventually washed away. What now remains is an entire expanse filled with rock formations, distinctive to region of Cappadocia.
These formations have come to be affectionately known as the “fairy Chimneys”.
From any vantage point, the landscape of Cappadocia draws all your attention to its incredible beauty, but up close the rocks look rather… well… like rocks.
Much is the case when you arrive at the Selime Monastery.
The small doorways and walkways that zigzag up the face of the cliff that the Selime Monastery is housed within, do little to prepare you for the incredible feat of human ingenuity inside.
Monks settled in the area during the13th century, and eventually carved out the elaborate facilities required for the Monastery to operate, namely a kitchen, living quarters and a church auditorium that comes complete with intricate fresco artwork.
Arriving at the Monastery, I was to learn a funky piece of trivia – the Father of Saint George the dragon slayer, probably the most famous Christian Saint, was from this region of Turkey (his mother was said to be Palestinian – Just to add to the FYI’s…).
Eventually the religion of the area swayed towards Islam and the Christian Monastery became a major stopping point for caravans moving between Europe and China on the Silk Route.
Today the Monastery has been restored to a standard that allows visitors a hands on view into Turkey’s Christian past and the astonishing workmanship that went into making the Monastery.
The afternoon I was at Selime Monastery the rain began pooring down outside. Standing underneath a covered area, painstakingly carved out centuries before my arrival, I recall glancing out across the countryside below. The Selime Monastry is a perfect example of how the rock formations of Cappadocia work in an almost perfect harmony with the civilisations that have called this place home for generations and is a sight I probably wont see a comparison to ever again.
Have you been to a place where the local people live within the formations of the landscape? What places have you been to or want to go to where the landscape is the biggest reason for going there? Would love to hear below in the comments.