Cappadocia–Land of Caves, Churches, and Centuries Old Frescoes

by Donna on April 28, 2012

Exploring Cappadocia in Central Turkey is exploring one of the great centers of Christianity.  There are no sky-scraper Gothic cathedrals or multiple stained glass windows or gilded alters.  Instead there are beautiful, brilliant twelve hundred year old frescoes painted on to the walls of caves in exquisite detail depicting everything from a nativity scene to the last supper.

The landscape of Cappadocia is weird, looking like someone upended a bunch of giant ice-cream cones up and down the cliffs and valleys.  Inside the rock caves are beautiful fresco-covered walls of churches or simple dwellings or extensive underground cities.  The caves provide shade and natural air-conditioning in an area where summer temperatures can reach 120 degrees and winter brings freezing cold snowstorms.

Life was probably Spartan for the original residents, but not so for our little group.  Before exploring the sights that made Cappadocia so famous, it was necessary to have a proper Turkish breakfast.  That means a spread of every conceivable type of fresh, made to order omelets or crepes, fresh breads and marmalades, special meats, sweet fruits, and the ever ubiquitous olives.  Then it was off.

First stop was the open air museum that is Goreme, a staple and must see for any visitor to Turkey.  There is St. Basil’s, the Apple Church, the exquisite St. Barbara Church.  There are caves where the communal cooking occurred, where the monks ate their suppers, where suppliers were stored.  There are frescoes in still-beautiful colors of Nativity scenes, of the Holy Family, of the Last Supper, of every familiar scene of Christianity.

Walking under the blazing sun, it is easy to understand why living in the naturally climate-controlled caves was appealing.  It is only late April and already the temperatures are in the 80’s.  It is hard work seeing and doing so much, so the only thing to do is eat another meal.  A buffet of fresh vegetables, eggplant dishes, cooked bulgar, thick flavored yogurt, hummous, chicken, fish, and meats is a great way to get revived.  And the desserts!  Turks boast of having 200 different ways to prepare eggplant, and are equally proud of their sweets.  It’s a sugar rush to provide enough energy for the discoveries yet to come.

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