Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in Nevşehir Province. In the time of Herodotus, the Cappadocians were reported as occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine (Black Sea). Cappadocia, in this sense, was bounded in the south by the chain of the Taurus Mountains that separate it from Cilicia, to the east by the upper Euphrates and the Armenian Highland, to the north by Pontus, and to the west by Lycaonia and eastern Galatia.
The name was traditionally used in Christian sources throughout history and is still widely used as an international tourism concept to define a region of exceptional natural wonders, in particular characterized by fairy chimneys and a unique historical and cultural heritage. The term, as used in tourism, roughly corresponds to present-day Nevşehir Province. In pre-Hellenistic times, Persians, Hittites Assyrians and Greeks all lived in Cappodocia. All of these groups were Hellenised in the era of the Greek city-states. During the Middle Ages, after the settlement of Armenians in the Cappadocian theme during the Byzantine era, numerous Turkish tribes invaded the region, which was subsequently settled by them. Since 1915-1922 Turkish people constitute the vast majority of the population of this region.
Geography and Climate
Cappadocia lies in Eastern Anatolia, in the center of what is now Turkey. The relief consists of a high plateau over 1000 m in altitude that is pierced by volcanic peaks, with Mount Erciyes (ancient Argaeus) near Kayseri (ancient Caesarea) being the tallest at 3916 m. The boundaries of historical Cappadocia are vague, particularly towards the west. To the south, the Taurus Mountains form the boundary with Cilicia and separate Cappadocia from the Mediterranean Sea.
To the west, Cappadocia is bounded by the historical regions of Lycaonia to the southwest, and Galatia to the northwest. The Black Sea coastal ranges separate Cappadocia from Pontus and the Black Sea, while to the east Cappadocia is bounded by the upper Euphrates, before that river bends to the southeast to flow into Mesopotamia, and the Armenian Highland. This results in an area approximately 400 km (250 mi) east–west and 250 km (160 mi) north–south. Due to its inland location and high altitude, Cappadocia has a markedly continental climate, with hot dry summers and cold snowy winters. Rainfall is sparse and the region is largely semi-arid.
Cappadocia was known as Hatti in the late Bronze Age, and was the homeland of the Hittite power centred at Hattusa. After the fall of the Hittite Empire, with the decline of the Syro-Cappadocians (Mushki) after their defeat by the Lydian king Croesus in the 6th century, Cappadocia was ruled by a sort of feudal aristocracy, dwelling in strong castles and keeping the peasants in a servile condition, which later made them apt for foreign slavery.
Kingdom of Cappadocia
After bringing the Persian Empire to an end, Alexander the Great tried to rule the area through one of his military commanders. But Ariarathes, a Persian aristocrat, somehow became king of the Cappadocians. Ariarathes I (332—322 BC) was a successful ruler, and he extended the borders of the Cappadocian Kingdom as far as to the Black Sea. The kingdom of Cappadocia lived in peace until the death of Alexander. The previous empire was then divided into many parts, and Cappadocia fell to Eumenes. His claims were made good in 322 BC by the regent Perdiccas, who crucified Ariarathes; but in the dissensions which brought about Eumenes's death, the son of Ariarathes recovered his inheritance and left it to a line of successors, who mostly bore the name of the founder of the dynasty.
Following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, various Turkish clans under the leadership of the Seljuks began settling in Anatolia. With the rise of Turkish power in Anatolia, Cappadocia slowly became a tributary to the Turkish states that were established to the east and to the west; some of the population converted to Islam but the main Greek-Byzantine population moved to the Ionian coast. By the end of the early 12th century, Anatolian Seljuks had established their sole dominance over the region. With the decline and the fall of the Konya-based Seljuks in the second half of the 13th century, they were gradually replaced by the Karaman-based Beylik of Karaman, who themselves were gradually succeeded by the Ottoman Empire over the course of the 15th century.
The area is a popular tourist destination, as it has many areas with unique geological, historic, and cultural features. The region is located southwest of the major city Kayseri, which has airline and railroad (railway) service to Ankara and Istanbul. 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. 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.
Sedimentary rocks formed in lakes and streams and ignimbrite deposits that erupted from ancient volcanoes approximately 9 to 3 million years ago, during the late Miocene to Pliocene epochs, underlie the Cappadocia region. The rocks of Cappadocia near Göreme eroded into hundreds of spectacular pillars and minaret-like forms. People of the villages at the heart of the Cappadocia Region carved out houses, churches, and monasteries from the soft rocks of volcanic deposits. Göreme became a monastic center in 300—1200 AD.
In 1975 a study of three small villages in central Cappadocia—Tuzköy, Karain and Sarıhıdır—found that peritoneal mesothelioma was causing 50% of all deaths. Initially, this was attributed to erionite, a zeolite mineral with similar properties to asbestos, but detailed epidemiological investigation demonstrated that the substance causes the disease mostly in families with a genetic predisposition to mineral fiber carcinogenesis. The studies are being extended to other parts of the region.