Kappadokya looks like a lunar smurf village. Biblical and space-age. In fact, part of a Star Wars was filmed there. In Central Anatolia, Turkey, it deserves as much press as the Grand Canyon, though not many Americans know about it.

Surreal “fairy chimney” rock formations were formed when volcanoes erupted, leaving ash, lava and basalt that eroded unevenly.

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Assyrians, Hittites, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and others have lived in or occupied Kappadokya.

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Various peoples have LIVED in caves carved out of the soft stone for hundreds of years.

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Byzantine monks lived in carved monastaries in the rock formations and in the cliffs. We walked into rock-cut monastaries mimicking barrel vaulted structures. They’re painted with amazing Byzantine murals.

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Unfortunately, some of them have been defaced recently by vandals and religious zealots who often scratch out the eyes.

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The cave interiors are truly Flintstonian, with “built in” cabinetry — carved niches to hold foodstuffs, and carved areas for stomping grapes for wine. Carved tandoori ovens in the floor and long benches for feasts too.

Within the last fifty years, the Turkish government forced everyone out of the caves because the stone was occasionally collapsing, and was a hazard. Many of them now live in villages, like the one where we saw this youth hostel:

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We had the most luscious candy-like apricots ever that day. Turkish apricots are truly the best. We also saw apricots drying on rooftops of the village — the flies buzzing around them convinced us fresh was definitely better.

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Chickens!

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Some of the locals live in more luxury in some modern homes that look uniquely Turkish.

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We stayed in a cave hotel that was originally a private home. The rooms of the 150 year old hotel were actually carved into the rock, so our room was a cave. Our suite was “Anka’s Lair.”

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