Monday, October 22, 2012

Cappadocia's Hoodoos: More Than Just a Pretty Landscape...

Fairy Chimneys in Pasabag (also known as Monks Valley)
2012
"Hoodoos"? Yes, you read that correctly. It's the plural of hoodoo. And yes, it's hard to believe, but that is a term used by geologists (who are indeed scientists...but seriously, "hoodoos"??).

Hoodoos are rocks that have been spectacularly sculpted over time by differential erosion. The name hoodoo comes from the rock's silhouette, which looked to some like a hooded figure. In France, they also call them "demoiselles coiffées" or "ladies with hairdos." In the United States, the northern part of Bryce Canyon is resplendent with hoodoos that have been formed of alternating hard and soft layers of sedimentary rock. Other famous hoodoos include the Badlands of South Dakota and the Demoiselles Coiffées de Pontis of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

Pasabag
2012
In Cappadocia, Turkey, the hoodoos have formed from consolidated volcanic ash called tuff, and go by the romantic moniker "Fairy Chimneys." This is quite fitting, as the beautiful valleys of Cappadocia do appear to have been touched by a generous helping of that magic pixie dust....

Pasabag
2012
Located in central Turkey, Cappadocia is about a five hour drive southeast from the capital city of Ankara. The Hittites were the early inhabitants of Cappadocia (circa 1800 BCE), but others - Persians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Armenians and finally Turks - all found their way there at different times, each contributing to the region's distinct cultural heritage.

Several valleys (Ihlara, Pigeon, Zelve, Devrent and Rose, to name just a few) with a history of volcanic activity make up the geographic area of Cappadocia. Tuff covered the region, and in many areas its soft layers were capped by more resistant material. Over time, wind and water eroded the softer material faster than the harder one, leaving behind a stunning monumental rock landscape - a virtual riot of pyramids, domes, cones and spires - rising above the valley floors.

Panoramic view - from Cavusin towards Zelve
2012
Unlike dense igneous rocks such as basalt and obsidian that formed from fast cooling lava flowing on the ground from erupting volcanoes, tuff originates from airborne volcanic ash that has slowly cooled before settling on the ground and consolidating, over time, into a less dense and softer rock.

Like those who came before them, the early Christians, who took refuge in the Cappadocian valleys to escape Roman persecution, recognized the unique properties of tuff and undertook the laborious task of carving into the rock formations to create hidden churches, monasteries, convents, dwellings and astounding underground cities.

Organic growth - natural and man-made, old and new - surrounds Uchisar Castle
2012
This resourceful human partnership with nature and the result - a testimony to ingenuity, perseverance, devotion and faith - distinguishes a visit to the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia from one to the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. While the physical beauty of Bryce Canyon, with its sculptural magnificence and layered colors, is perhaps more stunning, it is the human interaction with nature in Cappadocia that utterly captivates and gives you something more substantial. In this regard, it reminds me of Mesa Verde, in Colorado. Being able to experience the spaces created centuries ago by hands wielding very simple tools, engages all your senses as well as your emotions....and history comes alive...

 Taking advantage of a natural fortification - view from Cavusin
2012
Frescos decorate the interior of this room adjacent to the rock Church of John the Baptist in Cavusin
2012
Looks like...a lovely single family home complete with a front yard...
view from Uchisar Castle
2012
Mysterious high window in Pasabag
2012
Finding a place in the sun, in Pasabag
2012
There are, of course many other attractions to seek out in Cappadocia besides its hoodoos. It has a long history and well deserved reputation for exquisite carpets and pottery. But the hoodoos have a special magical quality which begs thoughtful, quiet exploration - a bit of a challenge since it is such a popular tourist destination. However, when you do find that quiet time and space to sit and marvel at it all - the beautiful sky, the spectacular rocks, the age old will to survive - you will be well rewarded, for it is then that the the warm tuff rock gives up some of its secrets and the stories begin to emerge...

On the Bosphorus
Istanbul, Turkey - 2012
photo by Roger Winter





All of the images posted here are also available for purchase as 8x10 and 5x7 fine art prints and A2 size greeting cards (all printed on archival water color paper) at http://DigitalYak.etsy.com/. Be sure to send me a message if there is something you'd like that you don't see listed, or if you'd like a custom size or item, as I truly enjoy creating one of a kind items that hold special meaning. Thanks!!

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