Zelve is a settlement carved in the rocks, ahd shows how perfectly man can adapt himself to nature. The road from Paşabagı leads us through the reddish terrain of volcanic earth and takes us to Zelve, which is protected as an open air museum today.

Three natural valleys formed by erosions and rock subsidences, and surrounded by steep rocks and thousands of rock houses, churches, and tunnels carved in them, create an unforgettable impression on the visitors. The inhabitants who have brilliantly carved the volcanic earth to be protected from cold in winter and heat in summer, have erected houses, churches, convents, and pigeon houses in this manner for hundreds of years.

The churches of Zelve, the paintings of which have been quite devastated through time, have been built during the the Iconoclastic Period and before. The majority of these churches are decorated with symbols like the cross, the fish, the grapes, and the deer, befitting the tradition of the early Byzantine iconography.

There are no churches in Zelve which are confined to religious paintings, and thus we can conclude that the inhabitants of Zelve have been against church painting even before the Iconoclastic Crisis of the 8th century. The few painted churches that we see have been erected after the Iconoclastic Crisis.

We cannot reach the first valley of Zelve directly because of rock subsidences, but a road starting at the second valley takes us to the first one, which is of an amazing size and magnificence. On this road we see the Geyikli Church (the Deered Church) where a huge cross and deer pictures attract our attention.

The rock houses of Zelve have been occupied until recent times, and a mosque carved in the rocks of the first valley and architectural additions made of cement are an evidence of a long past. A speciality of Zelve which attracts our attention is the presence of the innumerate dovecotes, specifically seen in the first valley.

Pigeons have played an important role in the lives of the inhabitants who have fed on their flesh and used their dung. And the designs which have been carefully and delicately put around the pigeon holes are so various, that they can be the theme of a seperate observation.

In the third valley which is not often visited, we find the Church of Grapes which has two halls and was built before the Iconoclastic Period, and the Cross Church which was built during it

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