Tuesday, April 04, 2006


The Cappadocia region of Turkey is bounded on the east and west by two majestic snowcapped volcanic peaks, Erciyes Dagi and Hasan Dagi. The mountains have been dormant for thousands of years, but during the time they were active they filled the valley between with thick layers of volcanic ejecta and ash that rain, wind and flood have carved into bizarre forms that are, as far as I know, unique on Earth. The so-called "fairy chimneys" -- thin spires topped by balanced rocks -- are perhaps most famous, but here are some equally charming formations. That's grandson Dan in the foreground on the shoulder of Caner, our guide to "Love Valley."

Since humans first arrived in the Cappadocia region, and especially in early Christian times, they have become themselves agents of erosion, carving the soft white rock into dwelling complexes, churches, dovecotes, and even underground cities capable of housing thousands of people.

Never have I visited a place where geology and human history are so engagingly entwined. I am now trying to talk our webmaster and occasional contributor Tom into returning with me to explore the region on foot.