Rock Settlements

Simple, single-naved, vaulted churches constitute the earliest of the Cappadocian churches, presumably dating from the 7th – 8th centuries. The remaining ones, the columns, domes and other architectural elements of which are also carved into the rocks are later, from the 11th-13th centuries.

The doors and windows of monasteries, dormitories, dining rooms, monk cells and most of the churches cannot be spotted from the outside. They have been dug in such a way that no enemy could easily reach them. The openings observed today were caused by later collapses. Narrow and difficult entrances or passages have been equipped with round doors carved in the form of millstones out of nearby rocks. Ventilation chimneys and windows were all concealed.

There were about 10 underground cities in the region. Two of them, Derinkuyu and Kaymakl? are- open to visitors today. These underground cities which go down meters-deep to 7-8 stories with small and large rooms, halls, churches and ventilation chimneys must have been dug by different tribes of people in different times. Rock settlements are in fact scattered in a much wider area than can be visited today. There are, for example, similar settlements in the north, near K?r?ehir.

The bottoms of deep valleys are narrow and restricted, but marshy and therefore suitable for agriculture. The slopes on the other hand, are idea) for rock-carved habitation.

Pigeon manure means fertility for tufa, the local soil. Even today, as in the olden days, villagers show careful attention to private dovecots. Some valley slopes are filled with many small niches. These are old dovecots with their fallen-off facades.
The Eastern Christian tradition of monasticism advocates an isolated life style for all members of the family and the commune. As an isolated locality itself, Cappadocia was exceptionally suitable for such a mystique and for a relatively safe communal life. It possesses small valleys and wide grounds on plateaus which easily offer lodging to a limited population. A large number of child graves are evidence for the crowded family groups which lived here. On the other hand, there are a great number of small, single monk cells carved into the fairy chimneys, to live in as the way of the famous Syrian saint Simeon Stylite.The best known of these innumerable monastic centers scattered over the valleys is Goreme which was originally named Korama.

Gbreme's monasteries and churches are located on an amphitheater like slope and widely visited today within the museym grounds.
The method of rock carving used in those days is today called «cut». Relatively simple digging equipment is used for the purpose. Spaces carved into these rocks are extraordinarily fit for living and storing. They are humid all through the year and no insects can live in them. They are used even today as living spaces, motels, warehouses and stables and some (recently cut) are used as storehouses for the seasonal preservation of lemons, oranges and apples.

Leave a Reply