View of Göreme from the inner courtyard of Hotel Sato. Until the eighties Göreme was called "Avcilar". Originally the name Göreme only referred to the nearby cave churches - UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beginning mass tourism led to the change of name. From a touristic point of view Göreme is one of the most important and most famous places in Cappadocia. Cappadocia is an eroded landscape of volcanic tuff. Wind and weather have created the strangest rock formations here. The tuff is porous and permeable to water. This allows it to store water and turns the valleys into fertile fruit and vegetable gardens. For thousands of years, caves have been hewn into the soft tuff stone. In summer they remain pleasantly cool and in the cold winter months they offer protection from the cold. Most of the residential caves have now been abandoned or converted into hotel rooms, some of which are very stylish.
Cappadocia is a part of central Turkey. Eruptions of several volcanoes (e.g. Erciyes Dag, Hasan Dag) had covered the area with tuff. Erosion dug valleys and created an uncountable number of different shaped rocks. The tuff's ability to store water made the valleys much more fertile than the higher surroundings. After the arrival of the first people, they soon started to dig caves into the soft stone. By the time they developed the ability to dig cities into the underground with tunnels of several kilometers. A sophisticated pipe- and tunnel-system cared for fresh air and water, to enable the people to hide from enemies for a long time. In the 5th century hermits started to settle in the valleys and to paint their caves. In the next centuries more and more hermits and monks arrived and a rich cave-architecture with colourfull wallpaintings developed. The most famous are the churches of Goereme and the Peristrema Valley (=Ihlara Valley) between Ihlara and Selime. Today thousands of tourists from all over the world are visiting the area.