The region of Cappadocia is located in the middle of a once-active volcanic area of central Anatolia. Millions of years ago three of its mountains – Erciyes, Hasandağ and Güllüdağ – were active volcanoes; indeed this activity persisted intermittently at least into the Neolithic period according to the prehistoric paintings.
The volcanic eruptions were so strong that in some places the lava was up to 150m in thickness. Over many millions of years, volcanoes, wind, rain and ice sculpted the region which we now know as Cappadocia. As the landscape was eroded, basalt stones remained and formed conical structures with some reaching as high as 45m.
The area is a popular tourist destination, as it has many areas with unique geological, historic, and cultural features. The most important towns and destinations in Cappadocia are Urgup, Goreme, Ihlara Valley, Selime, Guzelyurt, Uchisar, Avanos and Zelve. Among the underground cities worth seeing are Derinkuyu, Kaymakli, Gaziemir, and Ozkanak. The best historic mansions and cave houses for tourist stays are in Urgup, Goreme, Guzelyurt, and Uchisar.
The local people referred to these unique rock formations “fairy chimneys”, a name that has endured throughout the ages. If nature was the first artist to arrange the decor, it was Anatolian man who carved the rock and built houses, churches and over 250 underground cities out of it over the centuries.
Hot-air ballooning is very popular in Cappadocia and is available in Goreme. Trekking is enjoyed in Ihlara Valley, Monastery Valley (Guzelyurt), Urgup, and Goreme.