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Göreme is taken under protection as an open air museum today. Its rock churches refrectories and houses indicate that Göreme has been a large monastic settlement since the ninth century.

The abundance of religious buildings is an indicator of Göreme’s importance as a monastic center rather than an agricultural settlement.

Only one of Göreme’s churches dates back to the 6th-7th century, and the rest have been built in the second half of the 9th century when the city started to flourish.

The majority of Göreme’s churches are small with a single room but two of them differ noticeably from the rest. These are the Kiliçlar Church and the two Tokali churches built in the tenth century, and which have some remarkable examples of Byzantine pictoral art.

We encounter “the golden period” of Byzantine art in ” the pillared churches” of the 1 lth century when the churches were decorated with fabulous paintings. The churches of the 1 lth century differ from the rest in the choice of religious themes and architecture, and they represent the so-called aristocratic art of the 11th century.

The themes of their paintings, their iconography, and the details of floral decorations are the same and therefore create the impression, that this repetition has come out of the same artists’ studio. The human figures are delicately made, and they usually wear wet-looking garments that display their bodily structure.

The faces have a sad and affectionate expression. Furthermore the distribution of the religious pictures over the walls and arches is perfect.

Since the Göreme. Kılıçlar and El Nazar valleys shelter quite a number of churches, it may not be easy to visit them in a few days. Though we can’t estimate when monastic life has ended in these valleys, we know that only a few churches have been built after the 11th century.

The bedrooms, benches, tables, and storerooms carved out of the rocks in the vicinity of these churches show that small monastic units have existed here.

We also see some names inscribed on the paintings in the 18th and 19th centuries, and this fact indicates that the churches of Göreme have been visited for pilgrimage, and that the pilgrims have carved their own names on the walls.

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