Among My Souvenirs

Stories of the road

Tufa Chimneys

Turkey is a beautiful country rich in history, religion and some of the earliest evidences of civilization.  The breadth of the land is little less than a 1000 miles, about one third of our own country.  And much like the United States it is comprised of majestic mountains, rolling farmlands and seashore.

After a long ride from the capital city of Ankara we entered the province of Central Anatolia and the area known as Cappadocia.  Here some 9 million years ago ancient volcanos covered the landscape with ash that mixed with water and rocky soil and created what geologists call tuff.  It is a relatively soft rock and in ancient times was used for construction in many parts of the world.

But here in Cappadocia near the town of Göreme this volcanic substance eroded into hundreds of spectacular pillars and minaret-like forms, known as Tufa Chimneys.  Dotted throughout the landscape were the evidences of homes, churches monasteries built into the side of the soft rock.  As a result of such building, Göreme became a monastic center from 300-1200 CE and the Cappadocian Fathers and their writings were well known throughout the Christian world.

The Göreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985, is a complex that contains more than 30 carved-from-rock churches and chapels, some having superb frescoes inside, dating from the 9th century to the 11th century.

I thought of how these early Christian communities found their way to such desolate places and gave voice to their faith and left us with the evidence of their devotion and understanding painted in the tufa walls.  And in the cold of the winter and the blistering sun of the summer called this spot heaven on earth.


Travel, TurkeyMary Anne Harris