Cappadocia is the ancient name of a large region in the center of Anatolia, although when we speak of Cappadocia today we refer specifically to the valleys of Goreme and Urgup, with their natural pinnacles and rock churches. In this survey of Cappadocia’s historical geography, the region will be examined in its entirety.
Ancient Anatolia or Asia Minor, the large peninsula where modern Turkey is located, consists of several regions. One of the most important was Cappadocia. Originally this region encompassed today’s provinces of Kirsehir, Nevsehir, Aksaray, Nigde, Kayseri, Malatya, the eastern part of Ankara, the southern parts of Yozgat and Sivas, and the northern part of Adana.
Cappadocia was neighbor to the Commagene to the southeast, Armenia to the east, Galatia to the northwest, Pontus to the north, Cilicia to the south, and Phrygia and Lycaonia to the west. According to the geographer Strabo (STRABO 539), who was born in Amasya and lived about 63 BC, Cappadocia measured 1800 stadia ( 332 kilometers ) north to south, from Pontus to the Taurus mountains, and 3000 stadia ( 552 kilometers ) west to east from Lycaonia and Phrygia to the Euphrates. In other words, the region was demarcated geographically by the Black Sea to the north, the Taurus Mountains to the south, the Kizilirmak River to the west and the Euphrates to the east. The Tatta (Tuz Golu, Salt Lake) to the southwest marked the border between Phrygia and Lycaonia.
During the 19C BC, Old Assyrian traders were established among the numerous native city-states of Cappadocia. Between c.1750-1200 BC, Cappadocia formed the Lower Land of the Hittite Kingdom.
The Persians made Cappadocia a satrapy (province), through which passed the famous Persian Royal Road from Sardis to Susa.
Cappadocia avoided submitting to Alexander the Great. After 190 BC Cappadocia was ruled by a native dynasty and the rulers became friendly to Rome. In 17 AD Cappadocia became a Roman province and was joined with the provinces of Galatia under Vespasian in 72 AD. Soon after, under Trajan, it was united with Pontus. The Roman period of Cappadocia continued from the 1C through the 4C AD followed by the Byzantine, Seljuk and Turkish periods.
The monasteries of Cappadocia were abandoned after the arrival of the Turks and later occupied by the local people. Some of the Christian population continued to live here until the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in 1923.