Friday, December 7, 2012

land of the beautiful horses

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues. And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another... how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia."  - Acts 2:1, 4, 6, 7-9
Since the dawn of its existence, Christianity has played a central roll in the Turkish region of Cappadocia. Spanning the entire Eastern region of the country, the Apostle Paul traveled through it many times during his ministry to preach of Christ. The landscape being a key element to the religion's survival.

Between 10-25 million years ago, volcanic eruptions laid foundation to one of the worlds most distinctive natural rock formations. Wind,  rain, snow and climate change have created varying conical shapes from the lava rocks over the course of time.

With a long history commencing with Mesopotamia and shortly thereafter Hittite rule, Cappadocia, pronounced Cap-ah-doh-key-ah, was first mentioned in 6th century BC under Persian reign; a name meaning 'land of the beautiful horses'.  Since that time, the region passed hands from Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, Constantine the Great, Byzantines, to the Turks.

Throughout the decades the land was placed in great use. Buildings of all types, including houses, churches, pigeon holes, and event halls were carved out of cliffs and standing rock formations. Minerals spewed from the eruptions left the soil rich and fertile. Even today, vineyards, orchards, potatoes and grain are easy to harvest. Underground cities, 8-11 floors deep accommodating tens of thousands of people, were created out of the soft rocks around the 8th century BC. To date 40 such cities have been excavated.

It was during the Roman rule that Christians took refuge in the underground cities, hiding against widespread persecution.  It was the ideal location. With its narrow hallways, Roman soldiers loaded with gear could only file in one by one allowing ample time for rolling stone doors to be slid into place, sealing off main entrances to the inner dwelling places.

Today, remnants of each era is present in modern day Cappadocia. Most notably, Christian artifacts. In a primarily Muslim country, the frescos and stone-carved cave churches make Cappadocia as unique as its landscape.

1 comment:

Patti said...

Fascinating! I never knew much about the place, and now I will be able to pronounce it properly.