Elmalı (Apple) Church in Göreme

Last Updated on December 31, 2019

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Elmali (Apple) Church, Goreme Valley, Cappadocia, Central Anatolia, Turkey

Frescoes, Not Apples

With so many painted churches in Cappadocia‘s Göreme Valley, how do you tell them apart? One early explorer saw an apple in one of the paintings here, so this became the Elmali Kilise (Church with an Apple).

Like so many other churches in the Göreme Open-Air Museum (which is what the valley is now called), this one is filled with colorful frescoes seven or eight centuries old. Also like many others, the frescoes have been damaged through the years when they lacked protection.

Damage has come from wind and water, and from local people who, not aware of the paintings’ historic and artistic value, saw them merely as examples of idolatry (ie, the worship of graven images). As good Muslims, they did their best to obscure the faces so that others would not be tempted to sin in idolatrous worship.

Today the churches are highly valued by all, and the locals who once allowed damage now guard, protect and promote them.

There are lots more churches for you to see on your trip to Turkey–apples or no apples.

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