Cappadocia’s cathedral attracts visitors
AKSARAY – Anadolu Agency
The Selime Cathedral was constructed by the earliest Christians in Anatolia to perform their relgiious ceremonies in secret. AA photosThe Selime Cathedral in Cappadocia, where the first vocal religious ceremony was held by Christians 1,700 years ago, is attracting great attention from tourists for its historical significance.
Facing Roman pressure in 66 A.D., the first Christians escaped to various parts of Anatolia, including the Cappadocia region. To conduct religious ceremonies secretly, they constructed a huge monastery in Selime Cathedral, which was also used against enemies.
In accordance with the Edict of Milan in 313, the first Christians began conducting their religious ceremony openly, when the first vocal ceremony was held by the Orthodox Christians in Cappadocia.
“Religious was made free in the region with the Edict of Milan. After the first ceremony in Selime Cathedral, the Seljuk Turks came to the region and continued using this place,” said Culture and Tourism Provincial Deputy Director Mustafa Doğan.
Carved out of high rocks next to Ihlara Valley, the Selimiye Cathedral welcomes contemporary visitors with its huge size, said Doğan.
“The cathedral has historical importance. The first Christians living in the Cappadocia region in the Roman Empire era turned this place into a huge monastery when they were exposed to pressure. They established chapels, churches and multi-functional rock-carved places here,” said the tourism official.
“Especially after the Mongols increased their pressure in Anatolia, the Seljuk Turks used the area of the Selime Cathedral as a castle. The longest resistance against the Mongols took place in this cathedral,” Doğan said.
The Selime Cathedral, in the Ihlara Valley, draws visitors today from European and Far Eastern countries. Doğan said the cathedral was the first place visited by tourists following the Aksaray route, adding that visitors were impressed by the cathedral for its huge size.
Doğan said the Ihlara Valley was also home to around 10,000 rock-carved places and over 100 rock-carved churches. The number of visitors to the Selime Cathedral exceeds 300,000 each year, according to Doğan.
“They consider the Selime Cathedral one of the largest edifices in the Orthodox sect,” he said.
Orthodox Christians continued to populate the area of Cappadocia until the 1920s, when the community was transferred to Greece in exchange for most Muslims in Greece as part of a population exchange between Turkey and Greece that was organized on the basis of religious affiliation, rather than linguistic or ethnic identity.