NEVŞEHİR - Anatolia News Agency
Two churches in Göreme have undergone restoration work in Göreme. The Tokalı and Şehitler churches, significant examples of Byzantine art, were erected in the 13th century to commemorate Christian soldiers
The paintings and frescos on the walls of Tokalı and Şehitler churches have been restored by Turkish and Italian teams. AA photo
Restoration and conservation work at the Tokalı and Şehitler churches, considered among the most important ones in the Mediterranean basin by experts, has been completed for the season.
The paintings and frescos in Tokalı Church are technically very important, Professor Maria Andalora of Italy’s Tuscia Viterbo University Restoration and Conservation Faculty, who initiated the project, said. “One of the most important characteristics of Tokalı Church is that it is the Cappadocia version of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. The problems at Tokalı Church are the same as those at the Sistine Chapel. Both churches need restoration.”
For 40 soldiers
According to the Nevşehir Museum Directorate, both the churches were built by the Byzantines in the 13th century to memorialize 40 Christian soldiers who were killed in the central Anatolian province of Sivas. Paintings and frescos, which have eroded over time in the two churches, were restored by a team of experts from Turkey and Italy.
Andalora said they had started work there thanks to support from a conservation center in Rome. “Tokalı Church is one of the most important churches not only in Anatolia but also in the Mediterranean basin.”
She added that work on the churches, located at the entrance of the Göreme Open Air Museum in Turkey’s Cappadocia region, a popular tourist destination, had been completed for this year but would continue periodically over the next two years.
Works began last year
The Niğde Museum director, archaeologist and restoration expert Fazıl Açıkgöz, said that last year they had erected the scaffold in the church when the Nevşehir Museum director reported that wall paintings there had been damaged and needed restoration by experts.
“We took various samples and did analysis. Expert photographers took photos of all parts of the church. Then we conservators started documentation. Restoration work began as part of an Ahiler Development Agency project. We strengthened and encolored the church,” Açıkgöz said.
Among the specialists involved in the work were experts on wall paintings, statues, stones, mosaics, and painting techniques on canvas and wood including Livia Alberti, who also worked on the Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul, Silvia Borghini, Cristina Caldi, Sara Scioscia and Valeria Valentini.
A project to improve tourism at the Göreme Open Air Museum by the Ahiler Development Agency has provided 465,000 Turkish Liras of financial support for the restoration project, which is headed by Murat Gülyaz.