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Nevşehir Province (Cappadocia) in Central Anatolia
N38 40 0.012 E34 51 0
Date of Inscription: 1985
Criteria: (i)(iii)(v)(vii)
Property : 9,884 ha
Ref: 357

 

Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
In a spectacular landscape, entirely sculpted by erosion, the Göreme valley and its surroundings contain rock-hewn sanctuaries that provide unique evidence of Byzantine art in the post-Iconoclastic period. Dwellings, troglodyte villages and underground towns – the remains of a traditional human habitat dating back to the 4th century – can also be seen there.

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Located on the central Anatolia plateau within a volcanic landscape sculpted by erosion to form a succession of mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as “fairy chimneys” or hoodoos, Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia cover the region between the cities of Nevşehir, Ürgüp and Avanos, the sites of Karain, Karlık, Yeşilöz, Soğanlı and the subterranean cities of Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu. The area is bounded on the south and east by ranges of extinct volcanoes with Erciyes Dağ (3916 m) at one end and Hasan Dağ (3253 m) at the other. The density of its rock-hewn cells, churches, troglodyte villages and subterranean cities within the rock formations make it one of the world’s most striking and largest cave-dwelling complexes. Though interesting from a geological and ethnological point of view, the incomparable beauty of the decor of the Christian sanctuaries makes Cappadocia one of the leading examples of the post-iconoclastic Byzantine art period.

It is believed that the first signs of monastic activity in Cappadocia date back to the 4th century at which time small anchorite communities, acting on the teachings of Basileios the Great, Bishop of Kayseri, began inhabiting cells hewn in the rock. In later periods, in order to resist Arab invasions, they began banding together into troglodyte villages or subterranean towns such as Kaymakli or Derinkuyu which served as places of refuge.

Cappadocian monasticism was already well established in the iconoclastic period (725-842) as illustrated by the decoration of many sanctuaries which kept a strict minimum of symbols (most often sculpted or tempera painted crosses). However, after 842 many rupestral churches were dug in Cappadocia and richly decorated with brightly coloured figurative painting. Those in the Göreme Valley include Tokalı Kilise and El Nazar Kilise (10th century), St. Barbara Kilise and Saklı Kilise (11th century) and Elmalı Kilise and Karanlık Kilise (end of the 12th – beginning of the 13th century).

Criterion (i): Owing to their quality and density, the rupestral sanctuaries of Cappadocia constitute a unique artistic achievement offering irreplaceable testimony to the post-iconoclastic Byzantine art period.
Criterion (iii): The rupestral dwellings, villages, convents and churches retain the fossilized image of a province of the Byzantine Empire between the 4th century and the arrival of the Seljuk Turks (1071). Thus, they are the essential vestiges of a civilization which has disappeared.
Criterion (v): Cappadocia is an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement which has become vulnerable under the combined effects of natural erosion and, more recently, tourism.
Criterion (vii): In a spectacular landscape dramatically demonstrating erosional forces, the Göreme Valley and its surroundings provide a globally renowned and accessible display of hoodoo landforms and other erosional features, which are of great beauty, and which interact with the cultural elements of the landscape.

Integrity
Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, having been extensively used and modified by man for centuries, is a landscape of harmony combining human interaction and settlement with dramatic natural landforms. There has been some earthquake damage to some of the cones and the pillars, but this is seen as a naturally occurring phenomenon. Overuse by tourists and some vandalism have been reported and some incompatible structures have been introduced.

The erosional processes that formed the distinctive conical rock structures will continue to create new fairy chimneys and rock pillars, however due to the rate of this process, the natural values of the property may still be threatened by unsustainable use. The cultural features, including rock-hewn churches and related cultural structures, mainly at risk of being undermined by erosion and other negative natural processes coupled with mass tourism and development pressures, can never be replaced. threats Some of the churches mentioned by early scholars such as C. Texier, H.G. Rott and Guillaume de Jerphanion are no longer extant.

Authenticity
The property meets the conditions of authenticity as its values and their attributes, including its historical setting, form, design, material and workmanship adequately reflect the cultural and natural values recognized in the inscription criteria.
Given the technical difficulties of building in this region, where it is a matter of hewing out structures within the natural rock, creating architecture by the removal of material rather than by putting it together to form the elements of a building, the underlying morphological structure and the difficulties inherent in the handling of the material inhibited the creative impulses of the builders. This conditioning of human effort by natural conditions persisted almost unchanged through successive periods and civilizations, influencing the cultural attitudes and technical skills of each succeeding generation.

Source: Unesco.org