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|Cappadocia is a large region in central Turkey, about 200km southeast of Ankara, which was buried under volcanic ash a very long time ago. The ash compacted into relatively soft rock, easily eroded, except where it happened to be protected by harder rocks. One result was strange formations like the ones you see here.|
|Inhabitants of the region exploited the relative softness of the rock to build cave-dwellings and underground towns in ancient times (underground towns were described by Xenophon in about 400 BC). I have no good photographs of the underground towns, but here are examples of cave-dwellings.|
|Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, smaller caves were made to attract pigeons. The pigeons nested in the caves, and local farmers harvested the droppings for use as fertiliser.|
|We explored Cappadocia from Nevşehir, a town reachable only by bus from Ankara in 1993. Now, however, it has an airport, so if you visit you will probably encounter more tourists than seen on these pictures.|
|Part of the city wall, on the landward side of the city. I assume that bits of it at least are remains of the fortifications built by the Romans in the 5th century.|
|This ruin (near the city wall) is also probably from the Roman era, but I don't know exactly what it was.|
|The most impressive Roman remain in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia, built in about 600 AD, and the biggest church in the world for several centuries. It was converted to a mosque when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople (hence the minarets), but is now a museum. Two of the three levels inside are accessible to visitors.|
|The floor of the upstairs level.|
The city has been called "Istanbul" by its inhabitants since the Ottoman conquest in 1453, but the change from Constantinople was not made "official" until 1930.
|The various bazaars of modern Istanbul are fun to visit. The covered bazaar is huge but crowded, and difficult to photograph. This is one of the open-air bazaars.|
Istanbul is one of the most interesting cities in the world; there are many more things to see than these pictures show. Turks are generally warm, friendly people, and our visit was fun as well as interesting. A smattering of Turkish is useful. We spent some time with the Language/30 package from Educational Services Corporation (two tapes and a phrase-book) and found it worthwhile. Unfortunately this excellent series seems to be going out of print.