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Some might say the most awe-inspiring and impressive Catholic churches are built with high ceilings, vast arches, and soaring spires. However, impressive churches can be found in the unlikeliest of places. One such place is the Cappadocia region of Turkey where magnificent ancient churches are carved from the unique rock formations there.
Around 2.6 million years ago, Mount Erciyes erupted in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. In the wake of its destruction, lava and ash cooled into soft rocks that covered a region of almost 8,000 square miles. Wind and water eventually eroded away the newly deposited sediments, leaving behind only soft rock that was prime for carving and shaping.
During the intense religious persecution by the Romans in the third century, early Christians flocked in droves to the Cappadocia region to find refuge and safety. When they arrived, they found the rock formations and made the realization they could easily be carved to form houses, churches, and monasteries. They created entire underground cities and safe hiding places.
At least six cave churches were carved out of the rock, along with countless homes, tunnels, and passageways. These churches collectively became known as the Churches of Göreme. Lining the churches are beautiful frescoes depicting classic subjects such as the Nativity, Baptism of Christ, and the Last Supper.