The churches found in Göreme that have been carved out of the volcanic tuff rock formations and decorated with vivid frescoes should be your first priority in visiting Cappadocia.
The main ones include the Apple Church, the Dark, Çar?kl? and Tokal? Churches. The columned churches are constructed on a classical Byzantine inscribed cross plan with a cupola in the central position which is suported by four columns. They were designed with a nave preceded by a narthex out of which were often cut tombs for the faithful. The frescoes depict for the most part scenes from the life of Christ corresponding to the great religious feasts such as the Nativity, the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Characteristics of the Churches
The three churches known as Karanhk Kilise, Elma-li Kilise and Cankh Kilise, generally called the «Churches with Columns», make up a most characteristic group, distinguished by their plans in the shape of a cross, following the Byzantine pattern. In all three churches were iconostases of very similar design, that have since been destroyed.
These features are evidence of the unity of the group and are sufficient proof a Byzantine period in the development of the rupestrian santuarles of Cappadocia. In these churches the visitor will see that goes to make up the beauty of the great Byzantine decorations of the eleventh century.
The artists have taken inscription from traditional liturgy. The decoration does not tell the whole story of the life of Christ, but only shows the principal mysteries and scenes related to important religious festivals.
The decorative motifs are in great number and most varied. They present a multitude of designs which are repeated with slight changes in all three churches. Broad bands of Acanthus like foliage generally spread their rich contours oyer the vasults and between the canopies and the vaults.