A fairy chimney is a conical rock formation, typically found in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. It consists of a cap of hard rock resting on a cone-shaped pinnacle of softer rock.
The geology of areas where fairy chimneys form typically comprises a thick layer of tuff (consolidated volcanic ash), covered by a thin layer of basalt or other volcanic rocks that are more resistant to erosion than the underlying tuff. Over time, cracks in the basalt allow the much softer tuff to be eroded and washed away. Fairy chimneys are formed where a small cap or boulder of the original basalt remains, and protects a cone of tuff beneath it from erosion. Eventually, the tuff will be undercut to the extent that the cap falls off, and the remaining cone is then quickly eroded.
Learn more Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia and Their Engineering Properties by Alper Baba; Abidin Kaya; Necdet Turk or scientific article .
The Christians and Moslems lived here together in perfect harmony until 1924. Then Christians had to leave the Valley because of the exchange of minorities between Greece and Turkey, and the Muslims were forced to evacuate the Valley in the 50's when life became dangerous due to risk of erosion.
They left the site to set up a modern village, a little further on, to which they gave the name Yeni Zelve (New Zelve). Now old Zelve is a ghost town and the erosion still continues.
The Zelve Valley is known as the Zelve Open Air Museum. It is among the earliest-settled and last-abandoned monastic valleys in Cappadocia. Zelve is well-known as the area in which the most interesting 'fairy chimneys' are situated. Fairy chimneys here have sharp points and thick trunks.
Zelve (ZEHL-veh) has its own attractions: the topography is even more dramatic, with crags and pinnacles and steep valleys, and there's more freedom to climb around and look at all the caves, nooks and crannies. And it is free of charge!
You can watch my 2 min 25 sec Video clip Zelve Devrent Valley Fairy Chimneys with Tchaikovsky Piano Concert out of my Youtube channel.
Favorite thing: It was fun exploring the Zelve valley with some of the people in my tour group. Fortunately for me, I ran into some Aussies (they're always up for some adventure) and they were more than willing and able to go scrambling up the rocks into the highest accessible points with me. We even climbed our way down the Devrent Valley from the upper lookout point squeezing our way through tight rock walls and navigating over loose ground below. A little danger can be a fun thing.