June 16th, 2014
It was here at the Goreme National Park and Open Air Museum that we were able to tour the Cave Churches that we had seen featured on “60 Minutes”.
In the 1st and 2nd century AD, the early Christians had used this area of Cappadocia to hide from persecution, building churches in the peculiar rock formations.
By the 4th century AD, under the direction of St Basil, Bishop of Caesarea (now Kayseri), this area of Cappadocia became home to a number of monastic Christians, who lived in seclusion in rooms carved in the rocks. These monks and nuns lived a simple life of work and prayer, building churches to serve their community. St.Basil is recognized as a father of Eastern Monasticism and his legacy extends to the Western church through his influence on St Benedict. He is a noted for injecting moderation in the austere practices which were previously characteristic of monastic life.
Cappadocia monasticism was already well established in the iconoclastic period (725-842 AD) as illustrated by the decoration of many sanctuaries which kept a strict minimum of symbols. However, in post- iconoclastic times, (800 AD and later) many churches were dug in Cappadocia and richly decorated with brightly colored frescos.
We toured a number of these cave churches and marveled at the paintings which were still visible, and still brightly colored where the light had not faded the paint.
We were not able to take pictures in most of the churches. (The flash degrades the paintings, and the park has decided to not allow any photography).
We were, however able to get a few pictures of paintings on the outside of the buildings……
And a few pics in an allowed setting - at least we thought it was allowed……
It was interesting to picture those early Christians, living in community……
In some cases, perched high up in the rock formations…..
The roots of Christianity were kept alive here in this rocky, arid region of Turkey.