Zelve valley Cappadocia

Cappadocia is truly hard to describe. Luckily, there are cameras, because every attempt to describe those small houses – which they actually are not, and which are build by hewing much-needed premises into the mountain – would be a certain venture.

Window decorations in Zelve valley

Low ceilings, few rooms separated by pillars and all you can see from the outside is just a hole!

Some of these entrances are decorated with ornaments, mostly with symbols of Christianity, fertility, prosperity. If they didn’t have hewed stairs into rocks to climb up to their home, people would make wooden ladders that were pulled up at night. That way no one could reach their house and thus they did not have to fear any intrusions by their enemies or wild animals.

Zelve inhabitants

One of those settlements is located in Zelve valley. When you look at pierced stone hills you cannot help but think that what you now have before you is probably the forerunner of a modern building.

Valley of ancient “buildings”

The paths for tourists’ visits are well marked and one should follow them since these ancient premises are susceptible to erosion and ceilings could easily collapse from above.

You get overwhelmed by strolling among fairy chimneys, this natural phenomenon which was inhabited by people until recently. They found a way to organize their lives and protect themselves from any danger.

Small corridors and pillars

Turkish authorities had trouble moving people out of these chimneys’ caves. They did not want to leave until the 1950s. But the problem was that inhabitants were no longer safe here because of frequent erosion. Those pierced and hollowed rocks couldn’t resist anymore and have collapsed every now and then.

“Apartments” on upper floors

The path will lead you among fairy chimneys and it is possible to climb the stairs into one of the “apartments”.

“Pierced” mountain rock

Feeble daylight hardly penetrates inside the first room, but it’s cozy, chilly and you feel some humidity. Underground water flow is another reason for the erosion to increase over the years.

There are small churches and monasteries in this area and a lot of traces to Christian-Muslim settlements. So an old minaret is to be seen here, still well preserved. After Christians left the village, Turks came to inhabit the place.

Minus 15 in winter

If you are traveling to Cappadocia in winter, you should know that snow usually falls in December and January. Temperatures can reach even below minus 15. About 30 to 40 centimeters is the usual amount of snow one could expect and tourist guides will allure you by those “rare spectacles” of nature where “snow covers only one side of fairy chimneys and the valley”, making one breathtaking landscape. And they are so right!


The full Cappadocia SERIES


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0 responses

  1. I had no idea anything like this existed. You are right though, it is a good thing you can capture it with a camera because it seems almost impossible to describe! Loved your pictures, really got a good sense for the area!

  2. Cappadocia is on my bucket list .. I can’t wait to go there and stay in a cave hotel and then get up early to go on a balloon ride. Next time I’m in Turkey, I’m definitely going to take the time to visit. ~ Jay @rovingjay

  3. It’s so crazy how a person could be a continents away and yet find something similar in Arizona. To know these continents were connected at one point, with inhabitants, and then inhabitants took some shelter traits with them is mind-boggling. Beautiful pics, by the way. 🙂

    1. Such amazing things to stumble across if travelling, don’t you agree? It’s great how we get to know this vast and diverse world. 🙂 Thanks!

  4. “There are small churches and monasteries in this area and a lot of traces to Christian-Muslim cohabitation.”

    Trap for young players there. The English word “cohabitation” has a primary meaning which is out of place here. In theory, your use of it is correct and the meaning is clear, but I guess most will be startled until they work out that the secondary meaning is intended.

    Having said that, what a fascinating place. I visited Kandovan near Tabriz last year, which has similar structures, still occupied.

  5. I’m really liking this series! You’re giving all these amazing facts (and stories for some). Keep it coming 😀

    Good note on sticking to the paths for both safety and of course, conserving the site. I always imagined Turkey to be relatively warm throughout the year, so I’m really surprised it can get down to -15! I wonder what it would have been like to live here back in the day…

  6. This is definitely somewhere on my bucket list and your photos make it that much more interesting. We travel with our 3 kids and I think they would absolutely love wandering around the fairy chimneys.

    1. They would love it, it’s like a place from a fairy tale anyway! You would just have to keep them close for safety reasons. Hope you’d get there some day! 🙂

  7. I want to go to Cappadocia so badly! It seems like a beautiful part of Turkey. And I would love to see the fairy chimneys. I think they are so quaint. I wouldn’t like to go in winter though.

  8. Cappadoccia is HIGH on my travel bucket list and I had never seen any of these photos! You just got me wanderlusting, lol. I love how history can dictate the future, especially when its this preserved!

    1. Feel free to browse the blog, the Cappadocia series was on for the whole month, you’ll find more photos. 😉 Love places like this as well, beautiful landscapes rich in history. Thanks!

  9. Cappadocia is truly amazing. I loved spending a few days there, though I didn’t get to see much as I had sun poisoning. So i really enjoyed your photos!

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