cappadociaformations2-thumb-6486168 They rise up all around, some with simple conical tops, others with rocks seemingly balanced on top, and still others with a phallic appearance that is disconcerting in such a conservative country.

Almost all of the  Fairy Chimneys have an ‘elf door’ or windows carved into them making it seem as though we’ve landed in Smurf-land…only there are no little blue men and women running around (at least I didn’t see any!).

They are what is left after the wind, and time, eroded the volcanic landscape in the valleys. The rock is soft, carving is easy and the temperature inside the cave dwellings stays comfortable year round – there is no wondering why people carved into them.

Entire villages are carved into Fairy Chimneys and, in the case of Cavusin, the entire village was carved into one rocky embankment…although the danger of this can be seen where the rock face has given way to reveal the rooms inside.

insidefairychimneychurch2-thumb-9427972 A visit to the Goreme Open Air Museum gave us a chance to look inside some of the cave churches that were ‘built’ during the Byzantine period. Church after church carved into the formations, complete with apses, columns, arches and frescoes…absolutely amazing!

onthehorsesredvalley-thumb-9671014 The best way to see the valleys though, is by horseback. Riding through the formations on an Anatolian horse is like a remembrance of how life was lived here in the past…quietly and simply. We were able to get much farther on horseback than on foot and could see how far the valleys reach. It  was a fabulous afternoon.

I have been captivated with the thought of Cappadocia ever since a coworker returned from Turkey years ago with pictures of alien landscapes and tales of stunning scenery (Hi Gail!). It certainly didn’t disappoint, and I’m still captivated.