Three volcanoes

As we came in to land in Kayseri airport, I was surprised to see snow-covered peaks. A quick check told me that the cones of three dormant volcanoes poke out over the 1000 meter high plateau of Cappadocia: Erciyes, Hasan, and Melendiz. What we saw from the bus as we transferred to Göreme was the highest of these: Mount Erciyes, whose peak is at an altitude of 3917 meters. In mid-spring it was still fully covered in snow.

We had views of the peak again the next day (above). The volcano last erupted about 80,000 years ago, but is not supposed to be dead yet. Since Kayseri is only about 25 kilometers from it, you might have to avoid this airport in case of Erciyes becomes active yet. I looked at the smooth white flanks of this peak and wondered about skiing, and then was not very surprised when someone told me about the resorts on the slopes of the mountain. Can you climb to the peak? The answer was not very clear, but I guess you could if you wanted to, but it is not commonly done.

On our last day in Cappadocia we traveled southwards, past Nevşehir. The horizon was then dominated by the two peaks of Mount Hasan (3253 meters high) and Mount Melendiz (2963 meters in altitude). Most of the time I saw them as two distinct peaks close to each other, although they are about 40-50 kilometers apart. Apparently Mount Hasan erupted about 9000 years ago. A painting, which was moved from the neolithic Çatalhöyük to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, is said to be a representation of this eruption. Some call it the world’s first landscape painting. Ankara and the the World Heritage site of Çatalhöyük are both in our bucket list for future visits to Turkey.

My favourite view of the double volcano came when we looked down at the Valley of Doves which runs between Göreme and Uçhisar. The combination of the fairy chimneys carved below our feet into the landscape and the distant snow-covered peaks rising above the horizon is a sight that encapsulates Cappadocia. I wish I’d come here in better light.