Yesterday the weather was quite good in the morning so I decided to cycle back to the Open Air Museum in Goreme to see the church that I’d missed when I was there before. The ride along the highway was not too bad, accompanied by the usual horn toots. The road down into the valley is fierce – big cobblestones and quite a steep, winding grade so I had to go almost all the way down with the brakes on, announcing my arrival with small screeches as the brakes seized on and off. The Buckle Church is just outside the Goreme Open Air Museum exit on the right; restored in the 1960s, it is the largest of the cave churches at Göreme and dates from the 10th and 11th centuries.
As I pulled up to the church door, the caretaker came out to see what I was doing and, when I explained that I’d been to the Museum before but had missed this church, he allowed me to enter free. The place, while large for a Cappadocian church, is very small for the large tour groups that the big buses disgorge and it was packed with a group of very loud Spanish speakers. Because I spoke to the caretaker in my few words of Turkish, he took a shine to me and invited me to wait out the crowd with a cup of tea in his microscopic cave office. After two big tour groups had left, he allowed me to go behind the barriers to take pictures of the ceiling and high wall frescoes. He also gave me a small book on Cappadocia. I am collecting the names of all the people I have met in Cappadocia in my little notebook, and he was about the 5th “Mehmet”.
After the church, I cycled on to Goreme itself, planning on going through the valley to Uchisar but when I got a little ways in the track became too muddy so I turned back. Feeling a little tired and hungry I stopped at a café in downtown Goreme for gozleme (Turkish flatbread pancakes) filled with spinach and cheese – cok buyuk!! Too big for me to finish … However, it did fuel the engine and I was able to ride back to Ibrahimpasa just ahead of the big drops of rain that started to come down just as I entered the village. The early evening was spent with Willemijn and Paul, eating another of Paul’s gourmet meals of bonito white fish, steamed beet leaves, salad, pumpkin soup and dessert.
More info about the Buckle Church:
The Buckle Church comprises four chambers, which are known as the Old Church, New Church, Paracclesion and Lower Church. The Old Church (10th century) has a single nave with a barrel vault. The frescoes give a comprehensive account of the life of Christ, from the Annunciation through the Baptism and Miracles and ending with the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. The Transfiguration is painted over the entrance and the vault has portraits of saints.
The Old Church now acts as a narthex for the New Church, which was added to the former’s east side around 990-1010 AD. Its barrel-vaulted nave tells the story of Christ in deep red and blue hues. The transverse nave has frescoes of saints, scenes from the life of St. Basil, and the miracles of Christ.
See pictures here.