Hot Air Balloon

Cappadocia, Turkey

Photo Credit: Candy Goode

While it’s not known when the ancient town of Göreme was first inhabited, settlements in the area were first recorded between 1800 and 1200 BC. For centuries, rival empires battled over the area which in turn led locals to tunnel into the rock to escape the turmoil. When persecuted Christians fled to the area, they began building caves, churches, and stables into the soft rock formations the region is known for.

The soft rock, called “tuff”, was created by ancient volcanic eruptions blanketing the region in thick ash which later solidified. The harder rock formations that remained after significant years of erosion became the “fairy chimneys”. The man-made networks located within these chimneys have given the region of Cappadocia its whimsical aesthetic.

The networks built by the Christians grew so complex that they evolved into underground cities. Almost 10-storeys deep and able to hold as many as 10,000 people, these subterranean cities served as hideaways from hostile enemy forces. Ventilation shafts were disguised as wells and large rolling stones were used to protect entrances.

Today, it is a much different scene. Many of the natural structures have been transformed into boutique hotels and the preferred mode of leisure transportation is by balloon to survey the breathtaking landscape from a few thousand feet above the fairy chimney peaks.

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