Cappadocia is such an old settlement dating back to 2000 BCE and it has tens of thousands of caves carved into volcanic tuff. There are many different locations where you can see these ancient caves in Cappadocia.
ZELVE OPEN AIR MUSEUM
The first caves were carved out by the Hittites in around 1800 BCE in Zelve and it was always inhabited since that time up to 1952 when the inhabitants evacuated the settlement and moved to a village nearby. Cappadocia's first seminaries to train priests are located there at the monastery in Zelve. Zelve is also a very nice example to see that Christians and the Muslims lived together in peace as you can see the cave mosque and several cave churches in the same area where Turks and Greeks got along like brothers and sisters. Other than the cave churches and cave mosque there are also other cave dwellings used as a kitchen, food storages and stables for the livestock. Zelve Open Air Museum is in a UNESCO member since 1985.
GOREME OPEN AIR MUSEUM
After Christianity was accepted as the official religion in the fourth century, the early Christians no longer had to stay in isolated places to practise their religion and they made many monasteries. Goreme Open Air Museum is a great example among these monasteries. The monastery is a big complex consisting of nunnery, refectories, food storages and cave churches decorated with very beautiful frescoes and wall paintings on the walls dating back to 11th and 12th centuries. The monastery functioned until the 13th century and abandoned in the same century. The monastery was converted into an Open Air Museum in 1960s and it is also a member of UNESCO since 1985.
The underground cities of Cappadocia were mainly made to protect the very old people, pregnant women, new-born babies and others who were not able defend themselves when they were under siege. They stayed in the underground cities as long as the invasion took which generally was maximum 6 months. After the invasion, they went outside and continued their normal daily life in the caves outside on the ground. Underground cities were also carved into the volcanic tuff which has a great advantage of the constant temperature. It does not matter how cold or hot it is outside, the temperature of the caves remain the same which is about 15-16 Celsius all year around. Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are the most popular underground cities in Cappadocia and they are the biggest ones as well. Kaymakli underground city has 4 floors and it is 55 meters deep in the ground and Derinkuyu underground city has 8 floors and 85 meters deep. Underground cities are of the musts to be visited in Cappadocia as you will be amazed when you start walking into the underground city and passing more floors down using the tunnels in between.
Soganli is another beautiful Open Air Museum which is full of old cave churches decorated with frescoes in the Byzantine era and re illustrated in the 14th century. It is a non-touristy village where you can see the villagers, farmers and shepherds with their livestock. It is an untouched area where you can see the local people along with the beautiful volcanic landscape and thousands of cave dwellings some of which were used as kitchens, dining rooms, stables and food storages besides the churches. IHLARA CANYON It is 14 kilometer long and 110 meter deep canyon created by the eruption and erosion in 10 million years time. There are approximately 10.000 cave dwellings and 105 cave churches in this canyon. There is the Melendiz stream running in the middle of the canyon along which you can hike stopping at some cave dwellings to feel the history besides enjoying the beautiful hike.