Cappadocia Churches and Monasteries

From start to finish, Cappadocia is a very important place for world Christians in terms of faith tourism. The reason for this is that Christianity has an important place in the spread of Christianity as a center of thought and education, and Cappadocia churches and monasteries are seen as pilgrimage centers.

Christianity is a Jerusalem-based religion. However, it is of great importance in terms of Cappadocia and Anatolian lands. Christians, who were persecuted in the 3rd and 4th centuries BC, fled and settled in Anatolia in order to be able to worship freely. Thus, the Cappadocia region has become the center of Christianity for those who want to maintain their faith freely. Polytheistic religions ruled in the region before, and therefore cult centers were located here. However, it was moved by Persians, Greeks and Hittites, who continued civilization in the region, and left its place to Judaism. This situation led to the spread of Christianity.
Jerusalem is the beginning of Christianity. However, here St. After the death of Jesus, they went into the process of disintegration by leaving Palestine in order to spread their religion and the severe oppression they experienced. In this context, it is known that they look for the most suitable environments and geographies. Thus, those who made Cappadocia their home built hundreds of churches, monasteries and chapels in the region.
In the formation of Cappadocia, volcanic lava and ashes show themselves in the first stage. The lava erupted by Hasan Mountain, Güllü Mountain and Erciyes spread over the region and formed tuffs up to 150 meters. Over time, valleys were formed after rain and floods and the erosion of tuffs, and fairy chimneys emerged in these valleys. Likewise, there are rocky valleys with solid ground such as fairy chimneys. Since these rocks are easy to carve, they created living spaces for the people who settled here. Tuffs are easy to carve. At the same time, tuffs harden when mixed with air. In this way, churches, monasteries and chapels, which are as important for Christians as the houses to be lived in, were built.

The Most Visited Churches in Cappadocia

It is possible to talk about hundreds of churches in the region. Each of these churches has a distinctive feature. As a matter of fact, they have different shapes and wall decorations according to the date of construction. For this reason, important and surviving churches and important churches due to their wall frescoes receive more visitors. Nearly 400 churches and monasteries are mentioned in the region. Many of them have been lost, and many are on the verge of disappearing. Churches made of tuffs wear out over time and are doomed to disappear.
Cappadocia Churches, which are important in the life of the Christians who ruled in the region, were built between the 8th and 13th centuries by the people who lived here. Thus, these structures, which are important for their worship, have also found a place in hundreds of underground cities located here.
The first address of the churches that must be seen in the Cappadocia region is the ones in Göreme Open Air Museum. As a matter of fact, the churches here were taken under protection and some of them were renovated. In this way, it receives more visitors. The churches that visitors to Cappadocia will see, especially in Göreme, are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. For this reason, it would not be wrong to mention that it is the first museum that those who come here must visit. Thus, in the Goreme region;
  • Cappadocia Carikli Church
  • Cappadocia Buckled Church
  • Cappadocia Elmali Church
  • Cappadocia Serpent Church
  • Cappadocia Barbara Church
  • Cappadocia Dark Church
It is one of the churches that you must see. In particular, we need to open separate parenthesis for the Dark Church and the Serpent Church here.
Cappadocia Churches and Monasteries
Cappadocia Churches and Monasteries

Serpentine Church

Cappadocia is one of the important tourism centers of Turkey due to its historical and natural beauties. In this way, the region attracts millions of visitors every year. Most of these visits come for the natural beauties, and most of them come to see the historical structures in the region. Located in Göreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia, which is one of the important centers for foreign tourists and Christians, the Yılanlı Church is one of the two churches you should see in the Cappadocia region. It has architectural structures that you cannot forget in terms of its features.
Of course, the frescoes in the Serpent Church attract visitors the most. This place, which attracts attention thanks to its religious motifs, has legends along with its name. Because after learning these legends, it is important for you to visit this church in terms of religious motifs. In this way, you can visit this place accompanied by impressive weather.
Yılanlı Church was built with free Greek Cross plans. Thus, it has two parts. Among the hundreds of churches, it is one of the few churches whose murals have survived. The church, which you will enter from the north, is covered with barrel vaults. The ceiling, which resembles a half-cylinder made of bricks and stones, is covered with a cover.

The Last Judgment motif, whose dates are found here, gives the dates of the works that started in the 1st century and lasted until the 12th century. So much so that the name of the church comes from the golden snake figures, which are legendary and come from the tomb of a priest here. Legend has it that four naked women in the church were attacked by eight snakes coming out of it. This depiction is exhibited in church frescoes. The fresco of the second woman cannot be understood because it is damaged. However, in others, there is a snake attacking the breast of a woman who does not breastfeed her child, a snake attacking the mouth of a lying woman, and the fourth woman has a depiction of a snake attacking her ears because she is a disobedient and disobedient person. However, there are two Serpentine Churches in the region. One is in Göreme and the other is in Ihlara Valley.

Dark Church

The Dark Church, which should stand out among hundreds of churches in terms of Cappadocia’s faith tourism , is in the Cappadocia Göreme Open Air Museum. The church, which was built by carving soft lava in the region, dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries. In the Narthex part of the church very little light gets adored. For this reason, it was called the Dark Church. This situation has played a leading role in the frescoes on its walls to come to the present day without any damage.
What makes the Dark Church important is the magnificent appearance and lively structure of the frescoes on its walls. From the entrance to the church, the Bible and Hz. There are rich decorations about Jesus. Deesis, who is famous among the Torah-based depictions staged in his frescoes, Journey to Bethlehem, Annunciation, Adoration of the Three Magi, Birth, Resurrection of Lazarus, Baptism, Transition to Jerusalem, Transfiguration, Last Supper, Hz. Jesus on the Cross, Betrayal, St. Jesus’ Descent into Hell, Blessing and Appointment of the Apostles, Women at the Empty Grave, Hz. There are scenes such as the Ascension of Jesus and the Burning of Three Jewish Youths.
There is a conservation work in the frescoes found here. So much so that it is possible to talk about the renovations made. A special light source is used especially to prevent the frescoes from being damaged. In addition, the lighting is turned on when there are visitors. Groups of 15 people are allowed to visit. This is to prevent human breath from damaging the frescoes. In addition, photography with flash is prohibited due to the damage of light.
An additional fee is charged for entrance to the church, in order to preserve the scenes on the walls of the Dark Church. Although the church is in the open-air museum, visits to this place are made with additional fees. After the Yılanlı Church, which should be seen with its frescoes that have survived until today, the Dark Church connects its visitors with its magnificent wall scenes.
Cappadocia Churches and Monasteries
Cappadocia Churches and Monasteries

Why Are There So Many Churches in Cappadocia?

Christians, who set aside the life on earth and chose Cappadocia for their religion, have built hundreds of churches here. Romans and Byzantines, who were under the influence of Christianity in the first age civilizations, lived in this region and we still see their traces in their most intense form. Especially before the Romans accepted this religion, they believed in polytheistic religions. There was a god for everything. Cappadocia has been the home of Christians fleeing from the persecution of the Romans since 64 AD, and has been a place of refuge. This situation lasted until Emperor Constantine I accepted Christianity.
The Christians, who did not want to incur the wrath of the Romans, took shelter in the hidden valleys and underground cities in the region called Cappadocia. For this reason, the region was not chosen for settlement, as it is filled with volcanic tuffs regionally, which prevents it from being used as agricultural land. However, the secret settlements obtained by carving the tuffs allowed people to hide here and helped them to fulfill their religious beliefs easily.
On the one hand, the spread of Christianity and on the other hand, the seclusion of the clergy living in this region caused an increase in the number of churches and monasteries in the region. Especially St. Basil is the main actor in the formation of monasteries in this region.

How Many Churches Are There in Cappadocia?

Cappadocia is a big area full of secrets. It is possible to talk about an area of ​​approximately 250 square kilometers. In this context, it is possible to say that there are places that are still waiting to be discovered as well as places that have been discovered. The number of churches, monasteries and chapels in the region and statistics can be wondered at.
According to the data of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, it is stated that 400 churches and chapels around Cappadocia were used as worship centers in the past. However, these numbers are not exact. It is said that the number of underground cities in the region is about 200. People built churches to fulfill their religious duties in the cities they lived at that time. In this sense, it is possible to talk about churches that could not resist time and disappeared. According to the inventories, there are 92 archaeological sites, 12 urban and 9 natural sites in the region.

Monasteries to Visit in Cappadocia

There is a T-shaped architecture in the construction of churches. In this sense, churches are places used for general places of worship. Chapels can be counted as examples of smaller churches. On the other hand, a monastery is a place where people who first became a clergyman and then went into seclusion continue the rest of their lives. Among the Cappadocia churches and monasteries, the main monasteries that should be visited are as follows.

Convent of Nuns and Priests

The monastery, which has three floors, is generally known as the Monastery of Nuns. On the first floor, there is a kitchen, dining hall and rooms to stay, while on the second floor there is a chapel that can still be visited despite its demolition. Connections between floors are provided by tunnels. It is also seen as the most important monastery in the region. The people of the period here tried to hide by closing the tunnels with bolt stones in times of danger.
Some parts of the Nuns Monastery, which could not resist time, had to be closed to visits. Especially the transitions between the floors have been destroyed, so only the ground floor can be visited.

Hallaç Monastery

The Hallaç Monastery, which is said to have been built in the 1st century, was named after the stream in the region. The church, which was built on a large tuff mass, started to collapse over time. However, it can still be visited. Hallaç Monastery is located approximately 1 km from Ortahisar. The architectural structure, which is used both as a church and a monastery, is the only one in Cappadocia.

St. Nicholas Monastery

Nicholas Monastery, which is regarded as a religious ritual and pilgrimage center by the Christian faith, is located next to Mustafapaşa. There are four churches belonging to the monastery, which was built as three floors. At the same time, it can be said that these churches belong to an irregular structure. Besides, there are patient cells, fountain and grave areas in the courtyard of the monastery in the western part. In fact, it was believed that the water flowing from the fountain and the fountain here was healing in its time. Because after the Greeks, the Turks wanted to be healed from their diseases by drinking this water. This monastery, which is very important among the churches and monasteries of Cappadocia, is one of the places to be seen.

Selime Monastery

Selime Monastery, which took its place in the last part of Ihlara Valley, was named after Selime Village here. At the same time, it would be correct to state that there is a cathedral that resembles a basilica. On the other hand, Selime Sultan Tomb, which is a place that receives visitors, is also located here.
Selime has an important history for the Seljuk period. So much so that, besides the castles and churches carved into the rock, natural beauties give unique presentations. At the same time, it is reflected in the annual statistics that approximately 300 thousand tourists visit it.

Selime Monastery in Selime Village of Güzelyurt district of Aksaray is known as the place where Christians lived during the Roman period and where they were hidden from the attacks of the Mongols. Therefore, it has an important place among the churches and monasteries of Cappadocia.

Cappadocia Churches and Monasteries
Selime Monastery

Keslik Monastery

It is one of the early Christian monasteries. It is located approximately 17 kilometers from the town of Ürgüp. It is located on the right of the road, 2 km from the Damsa Dam and Cemil Village, which was 10 km away from Mustafapaşa, which was known as Sinasos in the past. There are two churches here. Inside, there is a bezirhane, a winery, a kitchen, a meeting room and a school. It is known that it was dedicated to St. Srefanos, one of whom was seen as the first martyr by Christians. It is possible to talk about a place where approximately 200 people live at the same time. The destroyed parts of the monastery were repaired with cut stones.
Cappadocia is a region with a very wide geography. In this context, it is necessary to mention hundreds of churches. Thus, there are Cappadocian churches and monasteries that could not stand the time and were destroyed over thousands of years. At the same time, due to the fact that it is in a large area, visitors cannot naturally visit all of them at once. It is possible to talk about certain visited churches and monasteries. In this sense, churches, which are especially important for the Christian world, are visited by millions of people every year. Thanks to daily tours , Cappadocia churches and monasteries can be visited easily.
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