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Cappadocia, ancient district in east-central Anatolia, situated on the rugged plateau north of the Taurus Mountains, in the centre of present-day Turkey. The boundaries of the region have varied throughout history. Cappadocia’s landscape includes dramatic expanses of soft volcanic rock, shaped by erosion into towers, cones, valleys, and caves. Rock-cut churches and underground tunnel complexes from the Byzantine and Islamic eras are scattered throughout the countryside.

Neolithic pottery and tools found in Cappadocia attest to an early human presence in the region. Excavations at the modern town of Kültepe have uncovered the remains of the Hittite-Assyrian city of Kanesh, dating from the 3rd millennium BCE. The tens of thousands of clay tablets recovered from the remains of an Assyrian merchant colony at Kanesh are among the oldest written documents discovered in Turkey.

The earliest appearance of the name of Cappadocia dates from the 6th century BCE, when Cappadocia’s feudal nobility was dominated by a Persian satrapy and Zoroastrian temple cults were widespread. Because of its rugged terrain and modest agricultural output, the area remained underdeveloped in antiquity, with only a few significant cities.

Alexander the Great bypassed Cappadocia but sent troops under his general Perdiccas (322 BCE). After a power struggle following Alexander’s death, Cappadocia fell into the dynastic orbit of the Seleucids, although a local aristocracy descended from the Persian satraps continued to rule and Persian religious practices persisted. Cappadocia transferred its allegiance to Rome after the Roman victory at Magnesia (190 BCE) and remained faithful despite the Pontic and Armenian attacks of the 1st century BCE. Cappadocia was retained as a Roman client state until Emperor Tiberius annexed it in 17 CE for its command over strategic passes in the Taurus Mountains.

The region had early contact with Christianity. The Acts of the Apostles reports that Cappadocian Jews were present in Jerusalem during the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2:9), and the First Epistle of Peter mentions Cappadocia among the persecuted Christian communities of Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1). In the 4th century three Cappadocian theologians—Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus—made important contributions to Christian thought in their writings, refuting Arianism and elaborating on the doctrine of the Trinity.

Cappadocia’s position on the eastern side of the Byzantine Empire left it open to attack. Raids by tribal groups in the 5th century spurred the construction of heavier fortifications in the area. In 611 an incursion by the Sāsānian army ravaged the Cappadocian capital, Caesarea (modern Kayseri). Arab raids into Cappadocia commenced in the 7th century and continued into the 10th. During these periods of instability Cappadocia’s large complexes of man-made caves and tunnels may have been built or expanded from existing structures for use as refuges. However, establishing precise dates for their construction has proven difficult.

Cappadocia enjoyed a period of prosperity in the 10th and 11th centuries that led to a surge in the construction of rock-cut churches and monasteries. Many of the surviving churches from this period are richly decorated. The Byzantine Empire lost Cappadocia permanently when it came under the control of the Seljuq Turks about the time that they defeated the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.

The name Cappadocia is now commonly used in the tourism industry to refer to the area that extends roughly from Kayseri west to Aksaray (95 miles [150 km]), where the largest number of monuments are situated. The most-visited attractions include the sprawling underground cites of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı and Göreme National Park, where there are a large number of rock-cut churches and dwellings. In 1985 Göreme National Park and other rock sites in the area were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Cappadocia Activities

Cultural Tours

Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. Tourism may be international, or within the traveller’s country. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism more generally, in terms which go “beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only”, as people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”.

Tourism can be domestic or international, and international tourism has both incoming and outgoing implications on a country’s balance of payments. Today, tourism is a major source of income for many countries, and affects the economy of both the source and host countries, in some cases being of vital importance.

Hot Air Ballooning

The first human carrying flight technology was the hot air balloon.

While unmanned balloons have been around in some form for thousands of years, the first untethered flight with people on board was in 1782.

The large balloon on top is called an ‘envelope’. It holds hot air created by a heat source known as a burner.

The burner creates an open flame by burning a mix of liquid propane and air.

Hot air balloons are buoyant because the hot air inside the envelope has a lower density than the colder air outside.

Passengers typically stand in a wicker basket beneath the envelope.

While most envelopes have a standard balloon shape, others are designed to look like animals, cartoon characters and other fun objects.

The top of the balloon usually has a vent which allows the pilot to control the speed of ascent/descent (along with the burner).

Hot air balloons can fly to amazing heights, the world record is over 21,000 metres! (68,900 feet). It’s tough to breathe up there so oxygen is needed from around 5,000 metres (16,400 feet).

The temperature inside a hot air balloon is usually kept below 120 degrees Celsius (248 Fahrenheit).

A typical envelope is made from nylon with a melting point around 230 degrees Celsius (446 Fahrenheit).

Hot air balloon flights and festivals are popular in various destinations around the world. Well known locations include Cappadocia (Turkey), Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA), Luxor (Egypt) and the Serengeti (Tanzania).