Cappadocia was the homeland of the ancient Biblical people known as the Gomer (Genesis 10.2-3; I Chronicles 1.5-6). Acts 2.9 teaches that Jewish pilgrims were present at the coming of the Holy Spirit and heard the Gospel preached in their native language. And three of the Fathers of the Church, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory Nazianzus hailed from the region.
The landscape of Cappadocia is spectacular. Three dormant volcanoes littered the landscape with a pumice-like rock in which people have carved out homes, churches, monasteries, even cities over the centuries. The air here in early October reminds us of that of ski towns in the Rockies. We awoke each morning to brisk 35-45 degree dry air.
On Saturday, after catching an early flight from Istanbul, we landed at Kayceri, ancient Caesarea Mazaca. We drove into a fairytale land. Over the next few days, we worshipped at St. Mary the Virgin, a small, lovely church carved out of Cappadocian rock over 1500 years ago.
When Arab raiders swept through this region in the 7th and 8th centuries, Christians flocked to the Goreme Valley, using obsidian hand tools to carve hide outs in the rock. We walked and crouched through the underground city of Kaymakli, an occasional home to over 10,000 people!
The Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contains some of the most spectacular ancient frescoes in the world. The Byzantine artists who created these vivid depictions of the life of Christ and other Biblical scenes in the 10th to 12th centuries have left a magnificent history of Christian faith and devotion in a harsh and challenging world.
We spent several evenings at the Cappadocia Cave Suites, a remarkable hotel with rooms built in and around ‘fairy chimneys’, volcanic rock. Each morning, we awoke early to an imam’s call to prayer and witnessed scores of hot air balloons ascending before our eyes.
Monday morning, on to Konya, the ancient city of Iconium (Acts 13,14, 16).
Below: St. Mary the Virgin, Cappadocia