Ihlara Valley constituted an important religious center during the first years of the spread of Christianity. The natural protection provided by the Ihlara Valley made it an important base for Christianity. The valley became a center for monasteries from the 4th century on, and housed many churches decorated with frescoes and paintings. The churches of which founders are known are of special importance for the scientific community, since it is very difficult to determine the exact construction dates of the churches in this valley. The churches with one or two naves carved into rocks, which were built on closed Greek cross plans or free cross plans, are lining up along both sides of the Melendiz Stream, on the steep slopes of the valley.
Thanks to its natural features, the Ihlara Valley was used as a place for solitude by hermits and priests from the 4th century on. Christianity had begun to spread among people speaking different languages. Low rates of literacy and the unpopularity of the Latin language had made the spread of this religion difficult. Thus, in order to spread Christianity, the life of Jesus Christ, the themes in the Bible, prominent religious figures and the events related to them were depicted on church walls via frescoes.
In the frescoed churches such as the Sümbüllü (Hyacinth), Yılanlı (Serpent), Kokar (Fragrant), Ağaçaltı (Beneath-a-Tree), Pürenliseki (Platform), Eğritaş (Crooked Stone), Kırkdamaltı (St. George) and Bahattin Samanlığı (Bahattin’s Granary), scenes of the Birth of Jesus, Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Visitation, Flight into Egypt and the Last Supper can be seen.
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