6 june 2007
There are over 400 churches and chapels in Cappadocia. One has been lovingly restored
The award for Conservation of Architectural Heritage will be presented at the Europa Nostra Annual Congress this week to the Sarica Church in Cappadocia (Turkey), part of the Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia World Heritage site. Having suffered from severe surface erosion due to rainwater infiltration, cracks and flaking, this remarkable example of a rock-carved Byzantine church was rescued, restored and made accessible to visitors. The project principally involved the restoration of the wall paintings, the construction of a new drainage system and the replacement of the eroded rock of the facade with a covering of harder local tuff of similar colour.
A private company, Vasco Travel, restored the church in order to contribute to the sparse public money that the Turkish State invests in the Cappadocian heritage. The project began in 1997 and the restoration commenced in 2001. The project sponsored by Vasco Tourism Investment Industry and Trade Inc. and carried out by KA.BA Conservation of Historic Buildings and Architecture Ltd over seven years, makes the Sarica Church stand out as a rare example of a successfully restored and revitalised rock-carved church in Cappadocia, says Europa Nostra in its presentation of the award.
In the promotional brochure Vasco Travel claims that the project has given the company much positive feedback not least in the aftermath of 9/11.
Going through Urgup, Goreme and Zelve, the open air museum of churches and hermit dwellings hewn out of the naked rock, and the rock pinnacles pierced with the apertures of doors and windows. In the heat of summer, cyclists can cruise along in a comfort not offered by cars and coaches. And they do not have to abandon their vehicles when the roads narrow to paths. The number of cyclists is therefore steadily rising in the region. Cappadocia which has been featured in several European and American Mountain Bike magazines as one of the best places to cycle in Turkey and Europe.
Cappadocia Modern Tourism
The area is a famous and popular tourist destination, as it has several cone-shaped geological formations.It is southwest of the major city Kayseri, which has airline and railroad service to Ankara and Istanbul.After the eruption of Mt. Erciyes about 2000 years ago, the volcanic deposits formed soft rocks (ignimbrites) in the Cappadocia Region. People of Goreme, at the heart of the Cappadocia Region, realized that these soft rocks could be easily carved out to form houses, churches, monasteries. Goreme became a monastic center between 300-1200 AD. First period settlement in Goreme reaches to the Roman period from Christianity. Yusuf Koc, Ortahane, Durmus Kadir and Bezirhane churches in Goreme, houses and churches carved into rocks till to Uzundere, Bagildere and Zemi Valley carries the mystical side of history today. The Goreme Open Air Museum is the most visited site of the monastic communities in Cappadocia and is one of the most famous sites in central Turkey. It is a complex comprising more than 30 rock-carved churches and chapels containing some superb frescoes, dating from the 9th to the 11th centuries.