Amazing Physical Geography and Fascinating Geology of Turkey

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Chimney in Cappadocia

Cave Church Paintings - 10th C.

Cave Church Paintings – 10th C.

We visited several sites in Turkey where the physical geography and geology was unlike any other place I’d visited before. Cappadocia and Pamukkale are both sites where I was stunned by the amazing feats that Mother Nature could pull off – I mean creating a landscape of fluted rocks sticking up from an arid plain, and placing a huge mountain of calcite in the middle of nowhere is very impressive!

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House dug out of a chimney

Three volcanoes erupting frequently created the chimneys of Cappadocia. Lava flow formed a type of rock called tuff – a light porous rock formed by the hardening of volcanic ash. Wind and rain cut this rock into valleys of steep cliff faces with pointy and unusual chimneys sticking straight up out of the ground. At different times between the 3rd century C.E. and the 12th century C.E., the people of Cappadocia lived inside these rock formations, carving multi-level houses out of the soft stone. These Cappadocians were Christian; therefore, they also carved tombs, churches, nunneries, and chapels out of the chimneys. They would paint images of Jesus, Mary, various saints and disciples on the walls, some polychromatic and others monochromatic. The region of Cappadocia was amazing, I could go for a short walk through the middle of what felt like a desert and be able to visit these old cave houses and churches without restrictions. The feeling of exploration was exhilarating, and I imagined that my family and I were explorers finding these historic places for the first time.

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Some calcite pools on the side of the mountain

The physical geography and geology of Turkey continued to amaze me as we carried on to the small town of Pamukkale and its fascinating calcite mountain. This calcite mountain was created by a series of earthquakes. These quakes opened up numerous hot springs in this area. The water inside the springs has a high content of minerals, especially calcite. When the hot water evaporates and loses its warmth, the calcite that did not evaporate solidifies leaving white residue on any object that the water flowed over.

 

 

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Walking up the side of the mountain

The water from these hot springs flows over the mountainside and descends over one kilometer to the bottom. This creates a mountain that appears to be covered in snow from afar. In Turkish, Pamukkale means “Cotton Castle”, and after seeing this mountain of white from a distance, surrounded by cotton fields, I couldn’t agree more with its name. It definitely looked like a glacier in the middle of other green lush mountains. Though, given that it was over 30 degrees Celsius outside, a glacier would have been impossible!

 

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Walking up the side of the mountain

To protect the calcite deposits and to keep these clean and white, we had to remove ours shoes before entering the site and stepping on the calcite deposits. The water is continually flowing and these deposits form a hard-ridged pattern, similar to the ridges in sand on a beach caused by the waves. We entered the site from the base of the mountain and had to walk up the side of it. As we ascended, the water became increasingly warmer and pools appeared where we enjoyed wading in the warm turquoise water.

 

 

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Ruins in Heliopolis

At the top of Pamukkale rests the ancient city of Hieropolis. Once considered the city of the gods, anyone who was in need of healing came to the calcite springs to be cured. The people believed that the waters were magical. How else could such huge and amazing formations be created? They came from many far away places to be cured of their illnesses. Unfortunately, the water had virtually no healing powers. Because the diseased and injured people came from many different regions of Turkey, there are many different types of mausoleums, tombs, sarcophagi, and coffins located here. Today, the Necropolis of Hieropolis is one of the biggest and most diverse burial grounds in the world. Also located in Heliopolis are greatly preserved Greek ruins including massive columns, the remains of countless temples, old aqueducts, a huge amphitheater and much more!

Our experience at Hieropolis was similar to our time exploring the ancient houses and churches of Cappadocia. We could run around and explore almost the entire site with no rules or restrictions. It was astonishing that we were allowed to walk freely through such old and precious ruins. In most other countries that we have been in, guards were constantly telling us that we weren’t allowed walk too close to various ruins, never mind actually walking on them!

Exploring the physical geography and geology of Turkey was an amazing and fascinating experience that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Mom, Matt & I in Goreme, Cappadocia

Mom, Matt & I in Goreme, Cappadocia

We Slept in a Cave Hotel!

We Slept in a Cave Hotel!

Goreme, Capadoccia

Goreme, Capadoccia

Paintings in the cave churches, circa 10th century

Paintings in the cave churches, circa 10th century

 

Ampitheatre in Heliopolis, Turkey

Amphitheatre in Heliopolis, Turkey

Ruins at Heliopolis, Turkey

Ruins at Heliopolis, Turkey

9 thoughts on “Amazing Physical Geography and Fascinating Geology of Turkey

  1. callan

    Hey guys its cal i never knew Turkey was so interesting.That cotton mountain looks so cool ,first looking at it I thought it was a glacier but a glacier in Turkey would be impossible.That picture of you guys staying in a cave hotel looks cozy but claustrophobic at the same time.
    we miss you here and can’t wait until you’re back

    -callan

    • Alex Post author

      Hey Cal, Greer, Stacey and Fitz!

      Thanks for commenting Cal! It was really fun to stay/sleep in a cave, though it was very damp and cold during the night. I’m pretty sure that we all got the sniffles from that place! We’re all looking forward to see you all in a month!

      I hope all is well!

  2. Jane

    I was in Pamukkale/Hieropolis in 1993! Such a fantastic place…a feast for the senses! What an awesome trip you are having and we’ve enjoyed your stories!
    Jane (and Kate)

    • Alex Post author

      Hi Jane and Kate!

      Thank you for commenting! Jane, did you also visit Cappadocia as well as Pamukkale? Also, I just realized that I misspelled Hieropolis! I’m so sorry for that, and will get right on to fixing it! Looking forward to see you on June 16th!

      I hope all is well,

      – Alex

  3. Paul Huyer

    Fascinating, Alex. What a learning experience you are having! And having fun at the same time. We went to dinner with your Uncle Steve and Aunt Judy last night at the cottage and I told them that they need to follow your blog. We’ll miss you on “May 24” weekend.

    Paul

    • Alex

      Hi Paul, Judy, Taryn, and Bryn!

      Thanks for commenting! Have you ever been to Turkey? I highly recommend visiting if you haven’t. See you this summer!

      I hope all is well!

      – Alex

  4. Gramma & Grandad

    What great memories you raised for us It was one of our favourite places in Turkey.We went to Waterloo yesterday and watched Joey play in the Canadian Junior Volleyball Champoinships.
    Love gramma and Grandad

    • Alex

      Hi Grandma and Grandad!

      Thanks for commenting again! Which site was your favourite – Pamukkale or Cappadocia? Also, how did Joey do in Waterloo? I believe that the Canadian Junior Team(s) are pre-Olympic, or is that just in swimming?

      I hope all is well, and we’re looking forward to seeing you in June!

      – Love Alex

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