View of Göreme from an observation deck, Göreme National Park, Cappadocia, Turkey
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Living rock. Göreme, in Cappadocia, Turkey
Welcome to Göreme, in Cappadocia, Turkey, a region dotted with conical formations of volcanic rock known as hoodoos or fairy chimneys, typically found in dry, hot areas. They formed when a thick layer of volcanic ash solidified over millions of years into soft, porous rock called tuff that was then covered by hard basalt. Cracks in the surface allowed wind and rain to gradually wash away the softer bottom layer, leaving the hard basalt to cap tall columns of the tuff. The result is these unusual, often beautiful formations, that are found across the region.
This part of modern-day Turkey has been inhabited since at least the Hittite era, between 1800 and 1200 BCE, and possibly for much longer. Various ancient empires fought over the region, with Hittites, Assyrians, Neo-Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans each laying claim to it at times. The locals learned to burrow into the hillsides for protection and today’s visitors can see the vast complex of interconnected caves in which ancient societies thrived and sheltered. Göreme National Park was added to the Unesco World Heritage List in 1985, and is now a popular tourist destination.