Rock-cut churches of Goreme
A short walk from the Turkish village of Goreme in Cappadocia are the rock-cut chapels at the Goreme Open-Air Museum (a UNESCO Heritage site). This monastic complex is composed of monasteries, churches and a nunnery with beautiful frescoes (wall paintings) which are amazingly well preserved. The churches can be dated as far back as the 10th century.
My personal favourites are Karanlik Kilise (Dark Church), Tokali Kilise (Buckle Church), Azize Barbara Kilisesi (Church of Saint Barbara) and Elmali Kilise (Apple Church).
Karanlik Kilise (Dark Church)
Karanlik Kilise dates back to the 12th century and the wall frescoes include scenes the range from the journey to Bethlehem and the Nativity, through to the Crucifixion.
Tokali Kilise (Buckle Church)
Tokali Kilise (Buckle Church) has recently been referred to as ‘the Cappadocian Sistine Chapel’ after an Italian restoration. The frescoes in this rock-cut church cover the walls and the effigies of saints and other decorations are resplendent with golds, blues, and reds.
Elmali Kilise (Apple Church)
The name of this church apparently comes from a long gone apple orchard in front of the main entrance. The church dates from the 11th and 12th centuries and the frescoes show scenes from the Bible.
Azize Barbara Kilisesi (Church of Saint Barbara)
Although Azize Barbara Kilisesi is not as colourful as the others it still impressive. The frescoes consist of geometrical patterns painted in red ochre directly onto the rock. The red ochre lines are thought be an attempt to give the impression of cut stones.