May 9, 2013
Turkey Blog 1: Cappadocia Cave Churches
This is a blog written in a cave in Urgup Turkey by very tired traveler who spent most of the day walking around a UNESCO Heritage site at Gorme that has dozens of small cave churches. We arrived at the hotel at Midnight after an exhausting flight from Calgary so this is not by best writing.
Cappacocia is in the Eastern side of Turkey, South of the Black sea and West of Syria and Iraque. It famous to Western Christians for the “Cappadocian Fathers, Basil and the two Gregories” who helped settle a huge theological controversy in the late 300s. They also helped save the Eastern Orthodox church from completely losing the Holy Spirit as happened in the Western Church. It was a time of great military conflict and later of Moslem invasions that meant having a safe place to hide was important. Nature provided a solution in this part of the world through massive volcanic eruptions that produced thick layers of ash with different kinds of minerals that later hardened into tufa rock which was easy to carve. Over the Centuries people discovered they could cut homes and storage places into the rock and hide from invaders.
Religious communities formed around the teachings of the Cappadocian Fathers near the modern town of Gorme where they cut small chapels into the soft rock. Some of these are quite elaborate with stone columns left in place to remind the monks of churches in other places that needed columns to hld up the roof. They also cut refectories – eating halls kitchens and storehouses into the rock. The churches are decorated with beautiful paintings of Bible stories. Since there were no books the story of the Faith had to be passed down orally. The pictures on the walls and ceilings of the churches are like our stained glass windows. If a picture is worth a thousand words then these churches have many thousands of words of teaching that they used to teach the faith to children and converts. This is what we have sadly almost lost in my generation.
Now to bed – wake-up for balloon ride is at 4.15 am. Blessings, John in Capaddocia+
at 10:40 AM