Zelve is one of the
best examples of troglodyte (cave dweller) communities in existence today, and
exemplifies man's ability to adapt himself to his environment in a harmonious
manner. Because the volcanic rocks and cones provided insulation from the
unrelenting heat of summer and the freezing cold of winter, the cave dwellers of
this region developed ingenious ways of creating comfortable living quarters,
churches, monasteries, pigeon houses, and storage areas.
The village of Zelve
extends along the sheer cliffs of three valleys that converge on the Avanos
plain. These natural rock formations create three "avenues" where
erosion caused numerous avalanches over the centuries. What appear to be
rectangular caves are actually the interior rooms of former dwellings and
churches that have been exposed as the result of erosion and avalanches.
inhabitants of Zelve made their homes in the natural cracks in the rocks, and
carved out additional rooms as needed. Dwellings were originally created at the
level of the streams, but as the water eroded the soil, subsequent dwellings
were carved closer and closer to the ever-lowering stream bed. Thus, with the
passage of time the cliffs assumed a honeycomb appearance.