Day 5 - Cappadocia Part 2 - October 16

The "Fairy Chimney" shapes of Cappadocia.Göreme Open Air Museum is a UNESCO World Heritage site.You can see some of the cave dwellings across the field. This reminded me of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. At Göreme Open Air Museum, it's all about the churches and the Byzantine art. People were worshiping in this area in very simple cave churches as far back as the 4th century. At that time, Cappadocia was known as "Land of the Three Saints" - St. Basil the Great, his brother St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory of Nazianzus.

I did not post all the photos I took in all the churches at Göreme. I've tried to narrow it down to good examples from each we visited. Shooting conditions were far from ideal - hand-held without flash in a cave.

This shot to the left is just to give you some perspective on how cramped a space it was in the church. This is the Elmalı Kilise (or the Apple Church). Inside are images of saints and bishops and The Last Supper. And Jesus, of course.

The frescoes in Elmalı Kilise date to the 11th century. Though fully restored, the frescoes continue to deteriorate. Pieces still fall away, sometimes revealing older paintings underneath.

You will notice throughout the cave paintings that the faces are often the most damaged. Some of the damage to these frescoes are the result of the Iconoclastic Controversry, beginning in the late 7th-early 8th centuries. The Iconoclasts believed too much emphasis was being placed on the images in the church. The veneration of holy icons did not sit well with the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Until the mid-8th century, the iconoclasts, generally politicians, and the Popes duked it out over this issue. Back and forth to various degrees, one side or the other held the advantage until 842 when Emperor Theophilos died and his widow Theodora was regent for their young son. She had the Monk Methodios elected as Patriarch of Constantinople in 843 and on the first Sunday of Great Lent a feast in honour of the Holy Icons was celebrated.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Some damage was caused simply by time and the elements. Some caused as a result of Islamic prohibition to imagery.

And some damage was probably caused just from generations of locals using the churches for practical day-to-day existence purposes, like pigeon houses. Keeping pigeons is huge all throughout Cappadocia. Pigeon coops are carved into the rock everywhere. Pigeon poop is a cheap and effective fertilizer.

This is Yilanlı Kilise (or the Snake Church). St. George is depicted slaying the "dragon" but it looks like a snake. You can just make out a portion of the snake in this shot. St. George is on the brown horse in the middle.

To his right are St. Constantine and his mother, St. Helena, holding the true cross, believed to be the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.
Below is an interesting figure, Saint Onuphrius. He is one of those figures about whom little is known but plenty is told. Legends, lore, cults, churches, myths, feast days, veneration days and more for a man no one can prove lived at all. No matter, here he is depicted in nothing but a fig leaf for a loin cloth. Apparently, he roamed the deserts of Egypt, practicing the strictest code of silence, for decades.

Another shot of St. George and part of the snake. St. Theodore is on the white horse.
Now we are in the Karanlık Kilise (or the Dark Church). Sounds sinister, I know. But it's referred to as dark because so little light finds its way into this church. It dates from the 11th century and was a monastic compound.
In this church, as in others, we see the image of Christ Pantocrator (All Mighty or All Powerful or Ruler of All). It's an Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholic term. In iconography, Christ is seated on a throne, Ruler of All, flanked by others, usually St. Peter and St. Paul. It's one of the most widely used icons in Eastern Orthodoxy. However, the earliest examples are found in Italy. This compositional concept dates from the later part of the 4th centruy. The lack of light entering this church over the centuries has allowed the colors in these frescoes to remain vibrant. Restoration, however, took almost 15 years because of the severe acumulation of pigeon poop on the walls. You will also pay an extra 8TL for a separate admission into the Dark Church. A pittance compared to what you see. As always, click on an image to enlarge it.

This fresco of the crucifixion is considered the finest in Cappadocia.
Here again are Sts. Constantine and Helena holding the True Cross. Constantine, Helena's son, was the first Christian Emperor of Rome. After Christianity was legalized throughout the Empire, Helena traveled to the Holy Land. Allegedly, she discovered the hiding place of the three crosses used to crucify Jesus, Dismas, and Gestas. Via a miracle, it was revealed to her which cross was the True Cross, the one upon which Jesus was crucified.
Tokalı Kilise (or the Church of the Buckle) is the largest church at Göreme. It contains frescoes from the 9th and the 11th centuries.
The blue in the paint comes from lapis lazuli.
Sally, Mine and I snack on pumpkin seeds and çai while we wait for the rest of the group.
Now we are in Ortahisar, on our way to lunch at a local woman's house. Mine warned us about "Donkey Man" and there he was! Apparently, he get s a little too close to the ladies. He was soliciting us for a photo op with the donkey but we all just kept walking just to be sure.
Before we went into the house of Fayrihe, I spotted wasps getting good and soused on grapes rotting on the vine.

More drying grapes and tomato paste.
We all crowded into Faryihe's house. Some of us sat on a carpet woven by Faryihe and her sister about 25 years ago. It looked new! This room is not actually part of her house. It's a separate building she uses only in the summer because it's not heated.
I love this kind of food. A simple lunch of beans cooked with a little meat, a shepherd's salad, some bread, and under the bread is small variety of bulgar.
What a face. Her eyes were so expressive. She had a great smile. The style in which she wears her scarf is how Sally will wear her scarf the evening we spend at Hotel Karballa when Mine conducted a scarf tying demonstration.
After lunch, we headed to a carpet cooperative for a demonstration of how the women are trained to weave. The young women are also taught basic educational courses and health courses. The Turkish government realizes that this craft is dying. Big incentives from the government are passed along to the consumer here in the form of free shipping back to the States. Still, a carpet is out of my price range. Some carpets were in my range if I wanted to splurge. But I'd rather spend my dough on another plane ticket to go on another adventure.
I was impressed by the speed and skill with which these women could thread silk threads through silk threads. It defied reason that fingers could work that fast and with such dexterity.
Next we saw how silk is harvested. This was cool. The silkworm pods float around and the lady taps this dense broom-like tool on top of the pods. This grabs pieces of silk from the pods. Grab some silk then pull away from the pods and you have silk thread.

It's very, very strong. It felt almost like fishing line. The strands are then collected and spun onto large wheels. Here is a bagful of pods.
And here are the silkworms that once resided in the pods.

The carpet demonstration was ok. I did learn a lot about carpets and we saw some exquisite examples. But it went on too long. And, bottom line, carpet buyng is prohibitive. It really only calls to a few in the group. I would have rather spent my time hanging out with Faryihe. Who helped her clean all that up? I would have liked more time at Göreme. I would have liked just to walk around Ortahisar.

OK, back at Old Greek House, after dinner, Mine asked us all to gather in the room off the dining room for something special. The man on the left is 70 and soon, he will be getting his groom on, out-dancing all of us. The man on the right plays the saz or bağlama (the ğ is silent) and sings.
Eventually, Fuat Öztürk, one of the owners, would join in playing a drum. There would be lots of dancing. I've got plenty of video on this too.
Return to Main Page or go straight to Day 6 - Cappadocia to Güzelyurt.

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