According to some sources this church was believed to have come from the Iconoclast period. However considering its plan which is similar to 11C and 12C buildings, it can easily be concluded that this cannot be right. Its name derives from a legendary saint, Barbara. According to legend, Barbara, after becoming a Christian, was shut up and eventually killed by her father. Her father was later punished by being struck by lightning. Barbara was remembered as the patron saint of architects, stonemasons and artillery men. Her attribute is generally a tower with three windows representing the Holy Trinity. St. Barbara is depicted on the north wall.
In the apse Christ, pantocrator is shown enthroned with his right hand in the gesture of blessing. On the wall opposite the entrance are painted two soldier saints on the horseback, St. George and St. Theodore. These two equestrian figures battling against a dragon symbolize the fight between the divine heroes and the forces of evil. St. Theodore was a recruit in the Roman army who was burned to death for setting fire to the Temple of Cybele in Amasya.
The dark colored bird-like creature was believed to represent the evil.
The predominant color in the frescoes of the church is red which was obtained from ocher. The two pits to the left after entering are interpreted as being either baptismal or for wine production.
An interesting feature in this church is that the frescoes are framed like icons. The name of the church derives from the serpent in one of the frescoes on the left above the apse. Here, like in the Church of St. Barbara, two soldier saints St. George and St. Theodore are fighting against evil forces in the appearance of a serpent. Next to them is St. Onesimus.
On the right above the apse is another picture showing Constantine the Great and his mother Helena. They are holding the true cross. Constantine is very important in the name of Christianity as he is the emperor who declared Christianity the official religion in 330 AD. Helena was the mother of Constantine. After her conversion to Christianity, she used her position to promote the cause of the faith. She is the subject of many legends and is said to have found the cross of Christ during a trip to the Holy Land after receiving a vision at the age of 80. In art her emblem is the cross.
On the wall opposite the entrance is Jesus Christ. The small figure next to him is probably either the donor of the church or the artist of the painting as found in Italian art.
Opposite the apse are shown three saints, St. Onophrius, St. Thomas and St. Basil the Great. St. Onophrius, with raised hands in a dismissive gesture, was a hermit who spent a life of solitude in the desert in Egypt. He used desert leaves for a loincloth and became the patron saint of weavers. Because of his breasts and the way he is dressed he became a subject of some apocryphal stories according to one of which he was originally a beautiful, lecherous girl who repented of her sins and prayed God to help her. Her prayer was accepted and she woke up one day as an ugly old man.
Tokali Kilise, which for convenience is called the “New Church” is the most spectacular of all the rock-cut churches in Cappadocia. The 10C church is different in plan to others in the vicinity, having a transverse nave (Mesopotamian type) with three apses and a narthex hewn out of an earlier church, known as the “Old Church“. On the left of the transept is a small chapel and below the floor is acrypt. The most striking feature after entering the church is the dominant bright blue color used in the background of the frescoes. Because it was difficult to obtain, the color blue was very rare in Cappadocia. It was probably taken there from somewhere else which implies its cost. From this it is understood that the church was special among others. In the New Church, the niches in the walls of the nave serve to give a sense of depth and substance to the paintings.
This is a church with a cruciform nave, two columns, three apses and four domes (one central dome and three cupolas). Its frescos date from the 13C. The name of the church derives from a footprint below the Ascension fresco. The entrance to the church is from the north and the apse is directed to the east.
Three donors are mentioned by their names in frescoes. The way they are dressed in the picture gives the impression that they were not from the upper class but they were probably rich peasants. The fact that there were many donors shows that financing a church was beyond the limits of a single person.
No one knows when the underground cities of Cappadocia were built, perhaps in Hittite times or as late as the 6C AD. There were certainly underground cities as early as the 5C BC. They are referred to by a 5 and 4CBC Athenian historian Xenophon in his Anabasis. So far 36 underground cities have been discovered some of them being very recent. It is also estimated that most of them are connected to each other. But it is difficult to identify these connections.The ground consists of the same volcanic tufa. Cappadocians created vast cities which cannot be noticed from the ground level. They carved airshafts as deep as 85 m / 300 ft into the rock and then made holes laterally at different levels in all directions. They hewed an elaborate system of staircases and tunnels to connect all layers to the surface. They dug dwellings, bathrooms, kitchens, dining halls, storage rooms, wine cellars, chapels, graves and suchlike. In times of danger they provided security by rolling big round hard stones across strategic tunnels. Entrances at the surface were also camouflaged.
Today even from some of the modern houses there are man-made holes leading to underground passages most of which are used as cellars.
Kaymakli Yeralti Kenti (Underground City of Kaymakli)
It is one of the largest underground cities in Cappadocia with eight stories. It covers an area of approximately 4 km² / 1.5 sq mi. Visitors can see only about 10% of the city by going down a maximum of five floors. It probably is connected to nearby Derinkuyu. It was opened to visitors in 1964. The population of Kaymakli is thought to have been about 3,000.
Derinkuyu Yeralti Kenti (Underground City of Derinkuyu)
The underground city of Derinkuyu which means “deep well”, like Kaymakli, is one of the largest. It was opened in 1965. It is 70-85 m / 230-300 ft deep with 53 airshafts. The original ventilation system still functions remarkably well. It is not recommended that visitors having problems of claustrophobia or restricted movement go inside since there are many passageways where one has to squat.
The first two floors under the surface housed a missionary school with two long rock-cut tables, baptismal place, kitchens, storehouses, living quarters, wine cellars and stables. Third and fourth floors were for the tunnels, places to hide and armories. The last floors had water wells, hidden passageways, a church, graves and a confession place.
It is a cruciform church with two small aisles and an apse. Due to a few collapses the entrance to the church is from the altar section. In the dome there is a fresco of Christ in a mandorla being carried up to heaven by four angels. It is in primitive style, the faces orange and white with eyes unfocused and empty.South; Annunciation, Visitation, Joseph, Nativity, Presentation. North; Flight into Egypt, Baptism, Dormition of Mary. West; Daniel in the lions’ den.
It is a cruciform church with a horseshoe-shaped apse. It has a burial chamber in the north side. There is not enough light inside the church so the visitor might need a flashlight.
West wall; Christ, the judge, flanked by angels, is seated in a mandorla. Below him are the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste in oriental robes and the Twenty-four Elders of the Apocalypse. Below the west wall again, on the left, Day of Reckoning by weighing the Souls, a monster with three heads, and the body of a serpent devouring some of the damned representing the torments of hell. The name of the church derives from this painting. Next to it, on the right, naked women are being assaulted by snakes. One of them is in the coils of eight snakes probably because of her adultery. Another one’s breasts are being gnawed by snakes because she left her children. Others guilty of disobedience and calumny are attacked on the ear and mouth.
To the right of the door of the burial chamber is Entry into Jerusalem. To the left is St. Onesimus.
Apse; Last Supper, Crucifixion.
East wall; At the top is a cross in a halo, on the inclined wall to the left is the Crucifixion (not well preserved) and Visitation. Top of the north face; St. John the Baptist, right hand raised and left hand holding an amulet. Top of the wall, east of the altar; Christ sitting on a rainbow, Christ dressed in red and holding a book surrounded by archangels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Uriel.
South wall; Michael and Gabriel on both sides. Below the window is the Dormition, near the cross is the fresco of Constantine and Helena.
The name comes from the abundant hyacinths around the church. Sumbullu Kilise has a domed single nave and was part of a two-storied monastery, the upper floor being living quarters. The arched doorways which are divided by pillars and linked with an architrave in the facade of the church carry the traces of Persian influence.
Central dome; Christ pantocrator. North wall; (next to the altar) St. George and St. Theodore. West wall; (in the niche) Constantine and Helena. Altar section; Gabriel and Michael. On the following wall Annunciation is depicted.
Location 120 km / 75 miles to the south of Ankara, on the way to Cappadocia
Depth 2th largest lake in Turkey; 1,500 km² / 580 sq miles. In summer the surface area might go down to 1,000 km² / 386 sq miles
Width 48 km / 30 miles
Length 80 km / 50 miles
Depth 1-2 m / 3-6 ft. 2.5 million years ago the water level was 100 m / 328 ft higher. In times of serious drought, the surface is covered by salt blocks up to 20 cm / 8 inches thick
Altitude 905 m / 2970 ft
Tuz Golu, also called Tatta in ancient times, is a closed lake with no way out, surrounded by plateaus on 4 sides. The sources feeding the lake are insufficient; Melendiz River (Aksaray) and Pecenekozu River (Sereflikochisar). In summer, because of the evaporation the lake dries out and a 30 cm / 12 in layer of salt forms. Under this layer is mud. In winter, water is collected again but at its deepest level is not more than 2 m / 6.5 ft. Although it is the second largest lake, there is not much water because of its shallowness.
It is among the lakes of the world with its very high salinity of 33%. Due to this high rate of salt it is impossible to grow crops around the lake.
Tuz Golu is one of the richest salt beds in the world. The amount of salt which is obtained here is 300 thousand tons per year. This is 60% of the total salt production in Turkey.
Salt can only be taken from the lake from July through August. To ensure clean salt it is only collected from areas where the surface layer is more than 5-6 cm / inches thick. The salt is dug, the dirty layer is removed and the clean salt is gathered into mounds and loaded manually onto the wagons of mini trains.
It is estimated that there are more than 600 rock-cut churches in Cappadocia. These churches that people carved were similar in plan to the ones in the capital. Walls were covered with beautiful frescoes and they were also influenced by the Iconoclast period in the 8C and 9C. Most of the frescoes date from the 11C and 12C.
Two different techniques were employed for the frescoes, they were either painted directly on the rock or on a very thin coat of plaster. In churches where it was not plastered over, the painting became extensive. The predominant color of this style was red ocher.
In many pictures it is noted that eyes or faces of people are obliterated as it was believed that this action killed the painted subject in the Islamic period. In addition to this there are also many scratches of vandals’ initials which is strictly forbidden today. The visitor should be reminded that the use of flash with cameras inside the churches is not allowed.
The simplest church had a rectangular vaulted nave with an apse covered by a projecting arch. There are many variations of the churches, some with triple apse and a dome, cross-planned and so on. Because the churches were carved into the rock, they did not need to be supported by columns. Therefore columns and vaults are only structural symbols. Names of the churches are based on their archeological style or decoration, for instance the Buckle or Sandal Church. The apses of the churches face different directions as they are carved in accordance with the natural formations and availability of suitable rock pieces.
In most churches there are many grave pits which are thought to have probably belonged to donors or the church dignitaries as this was the tradition.