How Cappadocia got crazy


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Four score and thirty million years ago the three massive volcanoes that still dominate the central Turkish region known as Cappadocia spewed out enough ash and mud stone that covered the plateau. The spew firmed up into a soft rocky material called tuff. Ever since the tuff has gradually been eroding away.

Where the tuff is mixed with harder rock, like basalt, the erosion process creates the cone shaped ‘fairy chimneys’ which have made the Cappadocia landscape famous. The tuff surrounding the basalt is worn away, leaving it standing on top of a cone or column. Eventually the underpart is eaten away by more erosion, the chimney collapses and the whole process starts again (just like an ineffectively regulated banking sector).

Even if you have as little understanding of the geology as I, you can still appreciate the Cappadocia landscape as special. It looks plain crazy. The rock formations look like mushrooms, or phaluses. Mostly they just look like they couldn’t possibly be caused by nature. There are other sites too: like the picturesque rose and red rock valleys.

Amidst all the crazy landscapes are dwellings, churches and cities carved into the rock, or occupying natural caves. Our hotel was like this too. It’s super atmospheric, and the rock is great for insulation. It sure gobbles up wifi signals, though.

We spent three days in Capadocia, gorging ourselves on the absurdity of the landscape. It’s low season, so there weren’t a whole lot of other tourists around, and those that were mostly stuck to the main sights. There’s a well worn path between the most spectacular sites, but we got off it in our rental car, and found the more distant landscapes even more alluring.

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