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Cappadocia forms a rough triangle, southeast of Ankara, between Nevsehir, Kayseri and Nigde, with the town of Urgup at the center. It makes a good base from which to explore the monastic villages; and also offers the best shopping in the region. The story of Cappadocia begins well over 10 million years ago, when the three most dominant peaks were active volcanoes. Subsequent eruptions dumped layers of mud, ash and lava on the area. Rain, snow and wind created a fantasy-land of rock formations, most of which resemble chimneys, cones, needles, pillars or pyramids, and often capped by perfectly balanced, gigantic slabs of rock. The earthquakes added vast valleys and oxidation to give the area the final artistic touch: rocks 'painted' yellow, pink, red, russet and gray-violet. Also well worth a visit are the frescoed Christian churches and the rock-cut underground cities.