Churches of Göreme  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Göreme is a district of the Nevşehir Province in Turkey. After the eruption of Mount Erciyes about 2,000 years ago, ash and lava formed soft rocks in the Cappadocia Region, covering a region of about 20,000 km2. The softer rock was eroded by wind and water, leaving the hard cap rock on top of pillars, forming the present-day fairy chimneys. People of Göreme, at the heart of the Cappadocia Region, realized that these soft rocks could be easily carved out to form houses, churches, monasteries. These Christian sanctuaries contain many examples of Byzantine art from the post-iconoclastic period. These frescoes are a unique artistic achievement from this period.

In the 4th century small anchorite communities began to form in the region, acting on instruction of Saint Basil of Caesarea. They carved cells in the soft rock. During the iconoclastic period (725-842) the decoration of the many sanctuaries in the region was held to a minimum, usually symbols such as the depiction of the cross. After this period, new churches were dug into the rocks and they were richly decorated with colourful frescoes.

Tokalı Kilise

Tokalı Kilise (or the Church of the Buckle), is the largest church in Göreme. Restoration of the church was completed during the 1980s.

One noted feature of the church is the main nave containing ninth century frescoes in "provincial" style, the more recent additions are three apses of the 11th-century frescoes, which are rendered in "metropolitan" style. The church contains frescoes of the twelve apostles, the saints and scenes from the life of Jesus (963-969 and 11th century respectively). The church also has a crypt underneath the nave. The Buckle Church is formed of four chambers: the Old Church, the larger New Church, the Paracclesion, and the Lower Church. The Old Church dates to the 10th century. It was originally a single-naved barrel-vaulted church. But its apse was destroyed when the New Church was added at the end of the 10th or early 11th century. Now the Old Church provides entrance to the New Church. The Old Church is decorated with pale hues of red and green painted in strips to represent scenes from the New Testament and depictions of some saints. Panels of rich indigo painted with pigments from the lapis lazuli stone dominate the New Church : scenes from the New Testament, miracles of Christ, the first deacons, episodes from the life of St. Basil (one of the Cappadocian Fathers), depictions of Leades (one of the Forty Martyrs) and St. Menas. The New Church was carved out of the eastern wall of the Old Church and decorated with Eastern-style arches and a series of arcades. The Paracclesion, located at the left side of the New Church, is a barrel-vaulted chapel with a single apse. The Lower Church has three aisles and a burial space or krypto.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Churches of Göreme" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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