Thursday, October 16, 2014

Çavuşin.



It probably took us less than 10 minutes to drive from the Rose Valley to Çavuşin. ("cha-voo-sheen") We followed a road to the village that felt like we were entering from the back door - driving up a narrow road that eventually dead ended in the heart of the village.  We found a spot to park the car and walked towards where we spotted tourists.  For a stop on the tourist itinerary, Çavuşin was relatively quiet or maybe it's just that we're in low season.  There were just a few tour buses and not as many souvenir shops or vendors doing business as I would have expected.  Not complaining as it meant we could enjoy the place without being submerged in a pool of tourists.


Follow the mosque to the center of the village.


The old village of Çavuşin was abandoned several decades ago due to rock falls as back then, the inhabitants of the small village lived in houses which were cut into a massive rock wall. Now the insides of many of the dwelling are exposed due to years of weathering and erosion so, now from a distance you can look into what was once someone’s cozy little cave home or a church.  Speaking of churches, our Aussie tour mates mentioned something about a church here; that we had to climb up to the top of the hill to see it.

The church is somewhere up there....

Arriving into the heart of the small village, it's hard to not see the cavities in the hills above the village. We could see people walking around the cavities.  They were most definitely tourists so we decided where they were was where we needed to be.  But, how to get there? We just followed others.

The crescent moon, atop the small tower, is the sign this structure is a mosque.

Eventually, we spotted the sign pointing to a mosque and to a church.  The mosque was easy to get to but it was a remarkably teeny weeny mosque....a *mosquette*.  Okay, that's a word I just made up but it  should exist to describe something that looks like the Muslim equivalent of a chapel.

Your's truly making her way up.  I look like a pack horse with all the stuff hanging off me and tied around me :-)

We continued on the winding narrow unpaved path that seemed to be taking us up to the top of the hill.  At one point, I passed a woman who was huffing and puffing her way along.  Her breath was so labored; she stopped every few steps to rest.  I knew exactly how she felt as that was me just a few years ago. I still have relatively weak lungs but all the work outs at the gym have gone a long way to strengthening them.  I barely wheeze these days, if I wheeze at all.

Almost to the top.

The path stretched along a hillside ridge.

Looking back towards the path leading up from the village below.

At the top of the hill which is the top of the village, sits St. John's Church which many believe to be one of the oldest and largest cave churches in the region, dating to the 5th century AD.  A narrow, unpaved path leads to a rickety footbridge that you have to cross to get to the church.

We arrived at a plateau.  Not surprisingly, there was a souvenir vendor up here :-(  Ignoring her, I walked towards the edge to take in the views, which from this high up were spectacular.

Panoramic View
Panoramic view. Use the scroll bars to pan to see the entire photo.

Çavuşin in the foreground.  The knobby hill that is Uçhisar Castle in the far, far, far distance.

A great view of Baglidere (White Valley) with Uçhisar Castle in the distance.   You really can see Uçhisar Castle from just about everywhere!

The mushroom capped fairy chimneys of Paşabağ (Monk's Valley).

With my zoom lens, I could even see the chapel dedicated to St. Simeon (Simon), and the hermit's shelter that is built into the fairy chimneys with three mushroom caps.

Though the entrance to the church was not marked we found it.  

Originally, St. John's Church had three entrances leading to three now almost separated naves. In the old times the naves were only separated by huge columns, but later the spaces between them were filled with stones as walls collapsed. The interior of the church has elaborate mouldings, columns and arches as well as reliefs showing crosses and stars; their style is more similar to Syrian Christian architecture rather than the Byzantine one.  It's amazing to think how all this was hand chiseled out of the rock!






From an opening, perhaps a window, I caught a great view.  Not that I hadn't already enjoyed a great view or two or more but it's so beautiful, you can't tired of it :-)


We never did locate the second church, located further down on the hillside, called Nicephorus Phocas.   The church which dates from the 960′s AD was founded by Nikephoros Phocas II, a Byzantine general who was born in Cappadocia.  Perhaps on our next visit back :-)

Back down at ground level, we took a short break, before continuing on to our next destination - one of my favorite places in all of Cappadocia - Paşabağ (Monk's Valley).

The steps on the right lead to the path that winds up the hillside to the church at the top.