Kilise means church in Turkish. It was a new word in my vocabulary this summer in Kapadokaya, as the landscape is littered with churches and monasteries carved into its soft volcanic stone. Some of these sanctuaries date from the earliest periods of Christianity, and many contain richly colorful frescos painted onto the stone walls and ceilings.
In previous years, I visited the popular cave monestaries of Göreme and Ihlara Valley. However, during my Babayan residency, I found myself hiking to more remote locations with local guides (and sometimes a donkey)…off the beaten path and away from Kapadokya’s ubiquitous crowds of tourists.
How wonderful it was to draw in such an an ancient structure; to feel to the dampness of the cave around me, to imagine who had once dwelled or worshiped within these walls, who had painted these images, and who had later vandalized them. I considered all of this as I was drawing, with no tour groups or clicking cameras to distract me.