27 January 2011

Cappadocia 1

Posted by Callan Bentley

Today, you get the first of several batches of photos dealing with one of the most magical places I’ve ever been, the Cappadocia region of Turkey.

Cappadocia (pronounced “kap-uh-doke-ee-yuh“) is an area of eroded volcanic tuffs. The overall effect is badlands-like, but without the micro-turrets and hoodoos. The individual erosional remnants are larger in Cappadocia than in places like Bryce Canyon, Utah. Why this is, I don’t know – it could be a difference in climate, or perhaps the nature of the rock being eroded. Bryce is lake sediments; Cappadocia is semi-lithified volcanic tuff. Whether I’d go so far as to dub it “welded” is another question — it’s certainly far more friable and carvable than the “Ig2” layer in the Bishop Tuff.

Here’s a shot to show an exposure with typical texture:

That’s a lens cap for scale at right. Note the large chunks of pumice, and the large variety of sizes of lithic inclusions. The volcano responsible for belching out most of the Cappadocian tuffs is nearby Erciyes Dağı.

But no one travels to Cappadocia for its pumice inclusions. They go for the weathering pattern, and this is what that looks like:

The whole landscape is covered in big pinnacles like this, mega-hoodoos that people have been living inside for millennia. The humans have carved out cave-like dwellings with horizontal floors and ceilings, and vertical walls, and sometimes adorned them with carvings of moderate complexity, like these two “Roman” (not really) pillars seen downtown in the village of Göreme:

(I’m toasting them with a glass of Efes pilsner, which is what you drink in Turkey.)

Where the hoodoos alone were insufficient, the Cappadocians cut out blocks of the ignimbrite and added on, constructing dwellings in a more traditional fashion.

The combination of building styles is what characterizes this region and makes it so charming — it is at once natural and anthropogenic:

Here is an overview of part of Göreme:

To explore Göreme on your own, check out this gigapan:

Here’s a couple of Cappadocian abodes which have cracked open, revealing the warren inside like a dissected anthill:

A few night shots of this amazing place, to round out the post:

This last one was the hotel that we stayed at. Our room was carved right into the tuff! Here’s a view of this rustic luxury:

More Cappadocia images to come — we spent several days here, exploring the countryside.