GOREME OPEN AIR
The valley of Goreme in Cappadocia
developed as an important monastic center after the Iconoclast Period (8th to
9th centuries), when icons and other figurative representations were prohibited.
From the second half of the 9th century on, a number of small, single-nave
churches were built in Goreme, the most outstanding examples being Kiliclar Kilise
(first half of the 10th century) and Yeni Tokali Kilise
(mid-10th century), both
of which contain the finest Byzantine paintings in Cappadocia. The 11th century
represents the "golden age" of religious art in Goreme. Three of the
churches from this period are known as the "Columned Churches" because
they share the same iconography and architecture. Goreme and two of its
neighboring valleys, Kiliclar and El Nazar, have a great number and variety of
churches. One cannot say exactly when monastic life ended in Cappadocian Goreme; however, no
paintings dating later than the 11th century have yet been discovered.
Some of the churches
have refectories with rock-cut tables and benches, and also contain small,
undecorated rooms formerly used as storage areas, kitchens, and possibly
dormitories. The manner in which these complexes were organized provides
evidence of the existence of many small monastic groups.