Before I even begin about all the breathtaking historical sites we saw today I must pause and comment on the glorious view we were given at breakfast. It was nothing short of spectacular and our Maker must be given applause. Loud, thunderous applause. The kind that erupts from deep within your soul and you feel all the way to your toes. Take a look at this.
After breakfast we were ready for a day of sight seeing. Our driver collected us from the hotel and we went straight away to the underground city of Derinkuyu, which translated in Turkish , means deep well. And yes there is actually a deep well at the site of this city. It is the deepest underground city in existence at 13 levels deep, roughly 70-85 meters. I was unsure if my claustrophobia would allow me to venture all the way down but thanks to the Lord I was able to. There was but one narrow passage way that I declined. Thing 3 stood faithfully beside me, seems as though she is a bit like her Mama. Of course there are certain areas where visitors are allowed and others which are restricted either due to excavation or safety concerns. This had to have been a highlight for the Thigns. We had a guide which directed us and filled in information gaps as to which rooms and carvings were what. What people had inhabited the caves and what their lives might have been like. It was astonishing to hear that the people would have spent 6-8 months underground, in the dark without seeing the light of day. Fearful for their lives they would hide. The tunnels revealed a church, a missionary school, a baptismal font, kitchen, living areas and food storage. Not to mention the stables and animal troughs. To think of 2000 people sharing these quarters not only with other humans but animals as well. And all the while worshipping, what faith.
The Six Hansons standing in front of a confessional in the underground church
Baptismal Font in Derinkuyu
After exiting the depths of the city and emerging into the sunlight we saw cross in the distance. An abandoned church, in fact the church of St. Theodore. Waiting for us was an elderly Turkish woman and a lone man all to anxious to show us the revolving pillars and the peep holes from which we could view the beauty of the inside of the church. We spoke with her in our best Turkish and she lovingly shared about her family and her handmade dolls. The church's skeleton leaves much to be desired and tells of years gone by but the inside is magnificent. Large pillars and frescoes adorn the ceiling. Only thing missing are the people, that and the key to open the padlocks.
From the church and after some bargaining for a handbag for Thing 1 we were on our way to Soganli Valley. Translated in Turkish literally means, onion valley. Which is an adaptation from the original name meaning left for the last. By any means there are fairy chimnies lining the valley which were created by erosion and the magnificent force of nature. There are churches built into the mountain side and we visited every last one of them. It was here that the Things caught a glimpse of frescoes. Floor to ceiling of Biblical scenes were painted painstakingly in these churches. Churches hidden in the fairy chimnies, in the mountain. And after years of being hidden they have now been destroyed. Both by natural causes and human ignorance. Eyes have been scratched out and graffitied over. IIn a majority of the frescoes the eyes of the human figures have been scratched out. The Muslims believe that portraying a human being was blasphemous. It is disheartening and it made Husband Jared and myself very sad. The Things weren't sure what to think and just couldn't understand why somebody would want to do that. Tell me about it. Husband Jared did manage to capture a few photographs of the frescoes and of course the Things hiking in the valley.
Next stop, the Monastery. Complete with a church and refectory, a little out of the way, was an interesting sight. The church's frescoes are beautiful, although most of them have been painted over by the Turkish Muslims. The red ochre, which was what was used to consecrate the place when it was first carved into the rock, is shown in areas. It is believed that symbols were painted onto the walls in order to consecrate the "building" and then artists came in later and adorned the walls with their frescoes.
After a nice walk through the grounds of the monastery we came to our final destination, for the day that is, Mustafpasa. This village is said to have remained Christian throughout the Selcuk and Ottoman periods and is an interesting mix of cultures, as evidenced in the architecture. There is an odd combination of the remains of the cave homes with "modern" buildings. We walked the area and then loaded up the van and returned to our cave.