The region of Cappadocia occupies a large part of the Turkish heartland. It is bounded by the Taurus Mountains on the west and the Anti-Taurus Mountains on the east, while both of them extend to the south. The northern natural border is “Halys bend”, the arch formed by the river Halys.
According to legend, the name of the region comes from Cappadocus, son of the legendary Assyrian king Ninyus.
The creation of this impressive landscape is due to the volcanic eruptions of the area, especially those of Argaeus (Mount Erciyes). The materials deposited by theeruptions were under the constant effect of erosion from air and rain, thus forming the incredible shapes of the Cappadocian “fairy chimneys”.
The beginnings of inhabitation in this area trace back to the Prehistoric period and most probably around the Neolithic years. Then it was successively conquered by Phrygians, Assyrians and Persians. The arrival of Alexander the Great in 333 B.C. and the continuation of governance by the Seleucids and the Ariaratheses contributed the most in the hellenization of the locals. Since then, the Greek language and education will be the main characteristics of the area’s population.
In 17 B.C. Cappadocia becomes a Roman province and continues its course now under the Roman and later Byzantine empire. The habitants of this area willget in touch with Christianity even from the 1st century, while the “golden age” of thisnew religion, the 4th century, is marked by the presence and the works of the Cappadocian Fathers. This region will have a peaceful and prosperous period till the first half of the 7th century. The positive conditions will boost the agricultural development and the formation of monastic communities.
The age of insecurity and constant conflicts will begin from the mid 7th century with the first Arabic invasions and the violent Islamization, which will last till the 9th century. The initial loss of Cappadocia in the 7th century is followed by successful efforts of its reconquest and preservation within the borders of the Byzantine empire. It is worth noting that these times of continuous warfare created myths and legends of heroes, with the indicative example of Digenes Akritas.
The cessation of conflict in the 9th and 10th century, a period that coincides the reign of Cappadocian emperors, will trigger again the development of the area and the foundation of many churches.
With the defeat of the Byzantines in the battle of Manzikert in 1071, the chapter of Byzantine governance will eventually finish in Cappadocia, since the area passed to the Seljuks. Cappadocia will be the center of Sultanate of Rum after the occupation of Caesarea (Kayseri) by the sultan of Iconium in 1169. The new rulers will care for the construction of many and impressive public edifices, for example mosques and inns (han). In the 12th and 13th century Christians and Muslims will coexist in a relatively peaceful way. However, social demotion and additional taxation were implemented on the Christian population.
A new page in the history of this land opens with the occupation of Caesarea (Kayseri) by the Ottomans in 1476 and its subsumption to the Karaman Eyalet. From now on, the people are named Karamanlides, a characterization, which from the 16th century will be used for all the Turkish-speaking Christians of the area and generally of Minor Asia.
Life for the orthodox populations will continue in villages away from the big cities and the administrative centers. In the 18th and 19th century, a wave of immigration occurred with the final destination being Constantinople. However, in the 19th century the religious feeling is reignited along with the development of Greek education. It is also that period when important studies for Cappadocia are being published.
The abandonment of the ancestral lands in 1924 due to the exchange of the populations under the Treaty of Lausanne, brought many Cappadocians in the Greek region, who settled in different areas.
Cappadocia is not only a natural monument or adistinct place to live in. It is also a land full of historical memories and a land of continuous geophysical and cultural development.