If I had to descrobe today in one word, that word would be “churches.” Now, the interesting thing about that word is that the area we are in has very few Christians still living here. Confused? I will do my best to explain.
Today was our tour day and we began in a Greek village, though, to be honest, it seemed a lot like any of the other villages we’ve seen thus far. The most interesting thing was the history of the place. In the years following Turkish independence the leader of Turkey set up an exchange with Greece. Basically, Greece got 400,000 skilled Greeks and Turkey got 2 million Turkish people. As a result, this village was emptied of Greeks and filled with Turks. I’m not totally sure why this happened but I’m thinking it has something to do with an overly nationalistic notion of what Turkey should be. Also, there was a pretty neat looking Christian church.
The next stop was a hidden monastery that had several rooms tucked away in a collection of caves. The main church was closed, but the frescoes in a smaller church were really neat. Though, awful destroyed. According to our guide, the majority of the destruction came from Muslims who either didnt know or didn’t care if the value.
A short ride from the monastery we stopped to look at some Roman baths. I found out that the word priority came from the Roman citizens having to look at the backsides of the important Romans. So they called them “prioritas” which, apparently means ass. Learning!
It was then time for a short hike before lunch. We were able to stop and see several more churches aling the way. These were somewhat distinct as thet had visible domes, while the vast majority of the others were intentional hidden.
(Photo Credit: Katie Riley)
Also, lunch was really good and I had yogurt with honey.
(Photo Credit: Katie Riley)
The highlight of the tour came last as we visited one of many underground cities spread throughout the region. See, when the Romans or other Christian haters showed up to these Christian villages, the folks would run to these elaborate underground cities. This particular one extended 11 levels below the ground to a distance of around 200 feet deep. They included kitchens with spiral chimneys to dissipate the smoke (to avoid detection), stables, living areas and a full church in the traditional cross style. Some other neat aspects were the holes used for both storage and as traps and the huge stone circles that would be rolled into the passage ways to cut off access. The passage ways themselves were short and narrow and I have to think they were designed that way on purpose to further thwart attacks. Now, folks wouldn’t live there for much longer than a couple of months but the most interesting aspect for me was trying to imagine people actually spending part of their lives that deep underground. As our tour guide said, it is amazing what people will do in fear of death or a love/fear of God.
Tomorrow is a bit wide open, which will be nice. I imagine we will explore Göreme some more before catching a late flight back to Istanbul.