About Turkey

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Apr15

Cappadocia, Turkey

One of the characteristics of Cappadocia is having plenty of underground cities . It's known that there are more than a hundred of underground settlements in the region and many of them are not open for visits. The underground cities, which are guessed to be used since the Bronze Age, used to be a settlement mostly in Byzantine period, doubtless. In this period, increasing invasions forced local residents to build underground cities for protection and religious purposes.

Certainly the most interesting features of the Cappadocia area are the underground cities founded within. Until now even that have been determined about 40 underground cities just six of these have been opened for visit. Nobody can know how many underground cities there are in the Cappadocia area. Some say that there is one for every village and settlement in the region but certainly not all of the sites can be described as cities. Well known underground cities of Cappadocia area are Tatlarin Underground city Derinkuyu Underground City, Ozkonak Underground City, Mazi Village Underground City, Kaymakli Underground City and Gaziemir Underground City

The first inhabitants of Cappadocia area have opened deep cavities within the volcanic rocks due to escape from the attacks of the wild animals and hard winter conditions and then they have enlarged these cavities according to their daily needs, they opened new cavities and created the underground cities connecting these cavities with tunnel and labyrinths. Later the underground cities were the place of the hiding of the first Christians who escaped from the persecution of the Roman soldiers and were enlarged to able when were necessary an entire city to live and every kind of fixture necessary for the living of the people has been attached. When there wasn't any danger the people living on the ground in case of the danger have hidden in the underground cities. For this reason all the homes at that time were connected to the underground cities with a tunnel.

In all of the underground cities there are ventilation chimneys reaching place by place to a depth of 80 and until the underground waters. These chimneys were opened due to meet the need of both the ventilation and water. Within the cities that are tepid in winters and cool in summers there are kitchens, cribs, wine houses, depots for cereals, meeting saloons, toilets shortly every kind of living space necessary for living. Within all the cities there are locking stones which can be opened and closed only from inside against to the threats which may come from outside.
The oldest written source about underground cities is the Anabasis named book of Xenophon (Written around B.C. 4). In the book is mentioned that the people living in Anatolia have caved their houses underground and that the houses are connected to each other with holes: "The houses were built underground; the entrances were like wells but they broadened out lower down. There were tunnels dug in the ground for the animals wkile the men went down by ladder. Inside the houses there were goats, sheep, cows and poultry with their young..."

Sultanhan

Sultanhan was built in the years 1228 to 1229 by Alaattin keykubat, this han is an exceptional example of architectural stone work and decoration art from the Seljuk period. It was constructed to provide security for the road from Konya to Aksaray that was an important trade and military route. It is a classic Seljuk han with summer and winter quarters plus a mescit and stables. The hans built in the Seljuk period under the direction of the Hanbeyi (Lord of hans). His duty was to make sure that the trade routes were secure. There was always a cavalry force in each han and in times of war these forces joined those of the Sultan. The han is 40 km along the Aksaray Konya highway.

Agzikarahan

Agzikarahan is located 15 km along Aksaray to Nevsehir highway in Cappadocia, it is mentioned as the Hoca mesud han in the Ottoman sources. Building was started in 1231 under Alaattin Keykubat and was completed under Giyaseddin Keyhusrev in 1239. It consist of a bath house (hamam), soup kitchen and summer and winter residences. The entrance has all features of stonework and decoration peculiar to the Seljuks.

Aksaray

Aksaray offers the traveller unique journeys into one of nature's showcases. It boasts beautiful geological formations and a rich history. It is a charming town at the heart of the Cappadocia region.

The Ihlara Valley is a wonderful example of nature, people, history and art being bound togother in one place. The innermost secrets of it come slowly to light when you begin to explore.

The first civilisation at Aksaray on the volcanic tufa-rock lands of Cappadocia was at Asikli and dates from 8.000 years B.C. At Asiklihoyuk (mound) is the oldest village belonging to the Neolithic Period in Anatolia and the Near East.


In its long history Aksaray has been the cradle to various civilisations. From 3000 B:C. to 2000 B.C. the Hatti tribes lived in Anatolia. During this period Assyrian merchants traded in this area.

Towards the end of the period of colonisation, the Hittites coming from the Caucasus around 1700 B.C. founded small city-states and made Anatolia into a military state.

In the 1st C. A.D. St Paul and the disciples began to spread Christianity provoking the polyheistic Romans. For the sake of safety the early Christians started to seek out less confrontational places to settle. Also many religious men seeking solitude came to this region.

Aksaray came under Seljuk sovereignity in 1142 during the reign of Kilicaslan II. At this time palaces, madrasas, lodged and caravanserais were built. Kilicaslan II. built a palace and changed the name from Arkhelais to Aksaray (lit. pure palace) and it became a virtual second capital city. The city did not allow bad people to enter. And because of this it was known as "Sehr-i Suhela" meaning the place where goog people live. Aksaray became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1470 when it passed to Ishak Pasha. After the conquest of Istanbul the city was under populated and many Aksaray people were resettled in Istanbul, which is the reason that there a district of Istanbul named Aksaray.

In 1920 Aksaray became a province. In 1933 that status was annulled and it became of the province of Nigde. On June 15th, 1989 it became a province once more. The region has been home to different religious artefacts found here belonging especially to the Islamic and Christian periods. Of hundreds of examples 29 have been chosen as being especially valuable from the point of view of religious tourism. Of these eight are Islamic, each a masterpiece in its own right that attract hundreds of thuosands of visitors. The examples are:
Ulu Mosque, Egri Minaret, Tapduk Emre Turbe, Seyh Hamid-i Veli Turbe, Kilicaslan Turbe, Yunus Emre Turbe, Selime Sultan Turbe and Kaya Mosque.

Alayhan

Alayhan is situated 40 km along Aksaray to Nevsehir highway within the village of Alayhan in Cappadocia area of Turkey. There is no inscription. The front and courtyard sections ar in ruins. It is guessed that it was built by Pervane bey during the reign of Kilicaslan II. It displays all architectural features of a traditional Seljuk caravanserai.

Avanos

Avanos taking place at 18 km in the north of center of Nevsehir has been settled on the coast of the Kizilirmak River. Its name from antique periods is Venessa. The most important feature of the region is the manufacture of clay jugs, biscuits, and jars. The jar makers continuing since the period of the Hittites are still continuing their traditions. At the archeological diggings made in the Zank Mound near the town Sarilar of Avanos there has been discovered the ruins belonging to the different culturs from the Old Bronze Age and until to Late Roman Period. Sarihan which is 5 km far away from Avanos is one of the most beautiful examples of the classical Seljuk architecture. At Sarihan which in our days is used as a touristy place every night are made Mevlevi ceremonies.
 

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