Walking to the Rabbit Church

The weather is very changeable here at this time of year; even though Willemijn did say, on one sunny day, that we would still have cold periods and rain, I didn’t really think it would happen. But after yesterday’s beautiful summery weather, today is high overcast and coolish. Crazy Ali had shown me a beautiful valley quite close to Ibrahimpasa the other day so I decided that a visit to the valley and its churches was in order.

Walking through the hills above the town was pleasant, not too hot. I managed to find the correct sandy paths through the fields and arrived without incident at the edge of this particular valley. There was a sign indicating churches in the vicinity but it had been knocked down and would have been impossible to see if one was not looking for it. I slowly made my way down the side of the valley and followed a very small faint track through the vegetation along the valley floor. Ali had told me which of the many fairy chimneys the churches were in, but once actually down in the valley it was a bit difficult to tell one from the next. However, I continued following the faint track and did arrive at the correct conical formations. The entrance to the churches was quite high up and required picking my way carefully up the sandy dune-like formations of soil.

One of the churches was undecorated; just hollowed out rooms and altars. The other required a bit of a steep clamber up to get in. Here, in a small barrel nave, were ceiling and wall frescos in an advanced state of dereliction. Layers of graffiti had been etched into the surface, some in Greek and some in Turkish. Speaking with Paul later, I realized that this was the Rabbit Church he had told me about earlier, the one with paintings of the “Slaughter of the Innocents” and the “Annunciation”, neither found in other Cappadocian churches. Standing in front of the frescos, though, I found it difficult to decipher the images because they were so badly damaged.

After spending some time there, I made my way carefully back down the sandy hill to the valley floor and continued following the tiny path along the valley floor. I decided to climb one of the many dune formations, thinking that it would lead me to the top of the valley. However, it did not; this dune was simply one of many and it turned out that I was on the top of a ridge between two valleys. I walked gingerly along the crest of the ridge and once again ahead of me saw a small path and, following it, ascended and descended dunes until I saw the way out of the valley. Finding my way back again across the hills was easy enough and I enjoyed my slow amble between the fields of apricot trees.

Bones and skulls are quite plentiful here but I have no idea of the animals to which they belong. Near the three small graves at the crest of the hill overlooking Ibrahimpasa were two skulls and several other bones, perhaps keeping the tomb-dwelling deceased company.

See pictures here.

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