ROCK CHURCHES OF CAPPADOCIA
In 1705 the French explorer Paul Lucas was sent by Lois 14th. to Middle-east, especially to Ottoman land, was schocked when he arrive in Urgup on the way to Kayseri. He was enchanted by the fairy chimneys.and people living in them, churches, pigeon houses and beautiful valleys of Cappadocia.
When he was back in France, he published his travelling notes in 1712. He states that he first thought that the fairy chimneys were tombs of a lost civilization but when he looked into them he realized that they were dwellings carved into the rock. He calls the structures that he saw pyramidsi and he actually exaggerates when he is defining the place. The travel book creates a lot of debates in public, but also it starts interest about the area. Lucas return back to the region in 1714 to reexamine the area. Nearly 130 years later, an architect called Charles Texier visited the area. He wrote a detailed report of his inspections between 1933-37 including plans and pictures under the name Researches on Asia Minor. Texier published the part about Goreme valley in Cappadocia in the Lemonde Illustrated magazine telling about how dazed he was to see the area. Later, W.F. Ainsworth (1842) geologist W.J. Hamilton (1837) and Prussian Marshall Moltke (1838 Nevsehir-Urgup ) also visited the region. In 1864, British architect R.P. Pullan (Urgup), in the beginning of the 20th century German H. Rott ( Aksaray-Selime ) and French R.P. Guillaume De Jarphanion (1907-1912) followed the first foreign visitors of the region. Jerphanion made an extensive research of the churches, monastries and frescos and publish a report called Rock Churches of Cappadocia. As a result, the interest in visiting the area grew bigger. Actually, the whole area was started to be called Goreme as it was the main focus of many reports. The frescos that R.P. Guillaume De Jerphanion found were from 9th and 11th centuries. There was only a chapel from 7th century. Goreme that was one of the signicifant centers in early Byzantine time was actually scructured in Iconoclast era. When Empress Theodora stopped the ban on Icons, monastrey life was resumed under Byzantine influence. Tokali and Kiliclar churches are important examples from the churches built during that time. When the Arabian attacks ceased during the reign of Nicephoros Phocas in 956, the monastery life came out of the underground cities. With 11th century, a total aristocratic period began in church art. The descriptions of the paintings in this period are very different from the early Byzantine era. The paintings and compositions were done by accomplished artists working fort he emperor. In terms of architecture, columns were used as well as a center dome instead of a cruciform vault. Carikli church, Elmali church and Karanlik church are good illustration of the architectural tradition of this era. After 11th century, frescos started to be made more crudely. The use of stone blocks brought the more common use of wooden Icons.
Goreme valley and rock churches are open to public visit as an open air museum today. It is believed that there are hundreds of other churches in the area other than the already discovered well-known ones. Until these are also found, the restoration of the ones that we already know is going to go on to secure a treasure that has been passed on for many generations from the damage of nature and humans.