Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Selime Cathedral, Cappadocia

Located in Guzelyurt of Aksaray province, Selime Cathedral is the largest in Cappadocia. The cathedral has a multi-storey structure carved into rocks at a high point, and it has a magnificent beauty. Selime Cathedral served in Byzantium as a significant centre for religious activities for the Orthodox Christians. In addition, Selime Cathedral was also an important military base. The locals utilised the Cathedral as a castle in a number of occasions. They managed to defend themselves by building trenches and fortifications in various points around the complex.

The Cathedral is made up of tens of rooms connected to each other via tunnels and passages. There are two lines of columns inside the Cathedral. These columns divide it into three sections. The Church is formed as a basilica, dating back to the 8th-9th centuries AD, whilst the frescoes inside date back to the 10th-11th centuries.

The high corridor that stands in front of the Cathedral entrance is a part of the caravan road that was used for commerce. As a result of the bazaar in Selime, caravans frequently arrived there and they were taken into the middle part of the Cathedral for security reasons. Located 100 metres east of the cathedral, Mother Mary Church is a beautiful rock carved Church. There are a number of wonderful chimney rocks in front of the Church.

Many significant religious figures were educated in Selime Cathedral and its surrounding area, which lay in the northern entrance of Ihlara Valley. This area was among the most important locations for Orthodox Christian during the Byzantine era. However, even under the rule of the Seljuk Turks Christianity was able to exist during the following centuries, after this area fell to the Turks.

Selime Cathedral was used as a military base during the Seljuk period. Commander Ali Pasha carried a successful defence there, against the Mongols. They were only able to take the castle by cheating them, claiming that they wished to make a deal. This, however, resulted in Ali Pasha and his men being murdered. His tomb and shrine are located in the west of the cathedral. 

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