Dark Church’s frescoes take visitors to journey in history
The historical Dark Church in Cappadocia takes its visitors to the depths of history thanks to its frescoes that have been well-preserved for centuries.
Located inside the Göreme Open Air Museum, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Dark Church stands out with its historical frescoes that resist time and maintain their colors due to the fact that it receives very little light from a small window in the narthex section.
The church is one of the rare faith centers where some events mentioned in the Torah are also depicted in the frescoes (mural paintings made of molten metal in lime water).
The frescoes depict the hiding of Virgin Mary, the birth of Jesus, the journey to Bethlehem, baptism, the raising of Lazarus, entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, betrayal, the crucifixion of Jesus, the assignment of the apostles, the ascension of Jesus, the hospitality of Prophet Ibrahim and the burning of three Jews.
The church is made up of a central dome, four columns, and three axes and is accessed through a curved staircase carved into rocks.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry has banned visitors from taking photographs inside the church due to the damage flashes cause on the masterpieces.
Carbon dioxide and body sweat pose great risk to the frescoes too, which prompted authorities to restrict the number of visitors to the church. Only 15 visitors are allowed in at the same time.
Visitors are allowed to tour the church for only three minutes and are required to pay a fee on top of the entrance fee for the Göreme Open Air Museum before entering.
Tour guide Murat Dinç told Anadolu Agency that the Dark Church is one of the important places in terms of Christian faith.
“The frescoes in the Dark Church lead visitors to the past,” he said.
“There are many historical churches in the area, but the church whose frescoes are best preserved is the Dark Church. Many scenes from the birth of the Prophet Jesus to the crucifixion are pictured here. Dark Church for the Göreme Open Air Museum is what Harem is for the Topkapı Palace.”
Tour operator Ahmet Kılınç noted that the Dark Church was not known of until 1985 when the region was opened to tourism.
“The area where the Göreme Open Air Museum is located was used as a monastery to train clergy in the 7th-12th centuries,” he said. “This is a very important center in terms of faith tourism.”
Dark Church, which was built at the end of the 11th century into a rock, was closed to visitors in 1987. It reopened after an eight-year restoration process carried out by Turkish, French, Italian and Polish restorers.