Saturday, October 6, 2007

Turkey Travelogue 9b - Göreme Open-Air Museum (June 12)

The Göreme Open-Air Museum is a UNESCO World Heritage site located a kilometer outside the village. The museum is actually an abandoned monastery consisting of a half dozen or so churches and other caves built into different rock formations along the side of a valley. This is the Nun's Convent:
Most of the church paintings have been dated to the 10-12th centuries AD. Some have fairly simple decorations in red paint in the iconoclastic style:
Others are much more elaborate:
The Buckle Church is chock full of comic strip style paintings that take you from the birth of Jesus to his ascension: I was especially interested in photographing paintings of the four Evangelists to use in my Gospels class. Here's Luke:
And Luke:
And John:
Unfortunately, I was learning how to take pictures in the dark without a flash as we went along, and Mark was too blurry to be of much use. But here (on the right) is Matthew:
There were also paintings of the Cappadocian church fathers Basil and Gregory, as well as other famous monastic figures such as St. George (and the dragon) and St. Onuphrius, the patron saint of weavers. "He was a hermit who spent 70 years in the desert of Upper Egypt" (Blue Guide):
As we wandered through we kept asking "why so many tiny churches?" And, "where are all the church-goers?"

For some reason this major tourist attraction doesn't have signs posted explaining what happened. But the ever helpful Blue Guide has this to say: "For the most part, the monasteries were abandoned after the arrival of the Turks in Anatolia and they were occupied by the local people. However, some of the churches continued to be used until 1923 when there was an exchange of populations between Turkey and Greece and the Christians left the area" (669).

Click here for the Turkey Travelogue Index.

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