The cave homes of Ortahisar in Cappadocia, Turkey.


Around 8 million years ago in the Cappadocia region of Turkey volcanic eruptions formed a large plateau of volcanic ash, lava and basalt. Later, tens of thousands of years of sharp changes in temperature, heavy rains, and melting snow produced what are known as 'fairy chimneys', up to 40m tall. The caves formed as part of this erosion have housed the Assyrian, Hittite, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman civilizations. Ortahisar (right) is one of the many villages that occupy this labyrinth of caves.


On both sides of the road into Ortahisar you find doors in the rocks. These lead to naturally air-cooled caves used to store lemons, oranges, apples, potatoes, quinces and onions for the village.

It has been many centuries since the caves were used as a secret refuge by people escaping persecution, so the caves now have elaborate façades of carved stone (far left).


a tour of Cappadocia's caves


The door (picture near left) is the entrance to Evelien Bogaart's beautiful cave home in the old part of Ortahisar.


Her home is partly carved from the rocks and partly built with the local stone. The rooms that have been added to the original caves are built with arched ceilings (far left).

The walls are very thick and keep the house cool in summer, while the temperature outside is more that 40C, and warm in winter when it can be as low as -25C.

Evelien, a cultural anthropologist, moved to Ortahisar from the Netherlands in 2004 to live in a paradise for nature and culture lovers. The interior of her home reflect the colours and culture that surround her.

Spices for sale, like turmeric and cinnamon, in the neaby Urgup market.


You can read Eveiien's blog (in Dutch) at to enjoy her experiences of the region. If you are not a Dutch speaker use this translation to English.


Herbs and spices in Urgup market