A Couple More Churches

After our early morning balloon ride, we went back to the hotel, ate breakfast, and took a nap. In the afternoon, we went to the Göreme Open Air Museum, a highlight on the tour bus circuit. We should have taken a pass on it; crowds ruin things for me.

I’m going to be brief on this one. Here’s the story: late 300s A.D., three priests (or bishops, the audio guide might as well have been in Turkish) and a nun got in a big theoretical argument with the head honchos of the Christian Church in (I think) Constantinople about icons. These four attracted a following of monks and nuns, all of whom had been ascetics, living the solitary life in Cappadocia. They built a convent and a couple churches in the rocks in close proximity to each other. Years passed, the monks and nuns drifted off, tour buses showed up.

Unlike all of the other churches we’ve visited, there was a hefty charge to get into this complex, no photography was allowed except of the exterior, there was a 3 minute limit for looking around inside each building, and crowds with very loud and irritating tour guides were everywhere. ‘Nuf said.

Here you go – this is the convent (audio guide called it a “nunnery”); sign out front, “Sorry, closed, no entry.” Great.

Church number 1 (you had to pay extra to go in this one, consequently, no one visited it):

Church number 1 again, from a distance, up there on the left:

Church number 2 (okay, so I violated the “no photography” rule). We couldn’t get out of here quick enough.

Further on up the road, just outside of Çavuşin, was the Çavuşin (Nicephorus Phocas) Church, built in 965 A.D. There was no one there and we could stay and take photos as long as we wanted in each room.

Why, you might ask, was there such a difference between these two complexes, less than two miles from each other?

Simple: tour buses (mostly Chinese and German) – they unloaded tourists at Göreme Open Air Museum by the hundreds. We, on the other hand, got to see Çavuşin Church because we had a rental car (only $54 per day), one of our better decisions on this trip.

Lesson learned: avoid tour bus stops.

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