Nowhere else than in Göreme can one witness such a close collaboration between nature and man; the rock has been carved and transformed into churches, chapels and tombs. The valley of Göreme contains three hundred and sixty-five of these rupes-trian churches scattered among a multitude of boulders.
What Is the history of these monastic colonies? No one can tell exactly. We know only that many a Byzantine sybarite must have gone there to find peace and repoce during the last days of his life.
Some of these dwellings are almost inaccessible. But once one penetrates one of them, one can, by crawling through a complicated system of corridors, boles, and tunnels, ascend to the summit of the gigantic rock. Big blocks of stone like milestones stand aganist the wall near the opening which served as entrances.
Every rock in Göreme is a refuge, a tomb, a sanctuary. The churches at Göreme vary infinitely In form, their shape dictated by the resistance of the rock.
Elmal? Kilise (Church with the Apple) Is the-smallest of the churches having complete decora tiou.
Almost inaccessible, It can be reached only from a well dug in the rock. The narthex is oblong. Not far from Elmal? Kilise rises the rock which houses the Karanl?k Kilise (The Dark Church). A tunnel opens to a shining esplanade; then one must let himself into a hole and crawl with difficulty along a stairway. Karanl?k Kilise is, as its name indicates, a realm of constant half light. One can see the paintings only by artificial light. Elmal? Kilise is gay; in it the soul feels a cheerfulness, and the body a sensation of security and comfort, whereas Karanl?k Kilise produces a sentiment of oppression.
Further on, in another gigantic rock, where pigeons build their nests, now rises Tokal? Kilise (The Church with the Buckle). Its name is an allusion to an ornament in the vault. Tokal? Kilise is the biggest in the valley. The liturgical furniture is almost inanct, On the walls are seen in chronological order scenes from he New Testament; the Announciation, the Visitation, the Test by Water-the Journey to Bethlehem, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the Slaughter of the Innocents, the Flight to Egypt, the Murder of Zachary, the Pursuit of Elizabeth etc.