The deserted, rock-cut village now called Açıksaray (Open Palace) is a fascinating place to explore, in my opinion one of the more interesting and relaxing in Cappadocia, and made more so by the small number of visitors. When we were there in October, we found probably about eight people besides ourselves in the entire site. The village, just outside the Turkish town of Gülşehir, dates to the 10th or 11th century and covers about a square kilometer, containing chapels, kitchens, mushroom-shaped rock formations, and dwellings, probably for monks. This is the facade of the largest complex.
Originally a chapel built in the 1300’s to commemorate St. Gregory in his hometown village of Guzelyurt, Turkey, this building was later converted to a mosque. Today it stands out as one of the most visible structures in a land of invisible structures: the Monastery Valley in the Cappadocia region of central Anatolia. The length of the valley is dotted with Byzantine Orthodox monastery cave chapels, carved from the soft volcanic stone in the valley.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi
Turkish Anatolia today is almost entirely Muslim, but it wasn’t always that way. This Byzantine era cave cell dates from a time when Eastern Orthodox monasteries dotted the central and eastern Anatolian plateau. In Göreme and other parts of Cappadocia, the soft volcanic rock allowed dozens of churches, bedrooms, stables and kitchens to be dug into the mountainsides. Many of these were decorated with frescoes that have been well preserved by the cool, dark cave air.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-100, f/10, 1/40 sec.