September 29, 2016
The Selimi Cathedral is not a highly visited area, mainly because the walk is extremely difficult. If you are going to do the walk to the top of this mountain I suggest very good shoes. It can be confusing, but important to understand that the entire mountain is called Selime Cathedral. There were many other types of rooms throughout the mountain, not just the Cathedral.
The cathedral dates from the Byzantine period and served as a significant center for religious activities and teachings.
It also served as an important military base. The local people would use the cathedral as a castle to defend themselves when needed.
The area for worship sits at the very top of the mountain and consists of ten rooms that connect via tunnels. As this area is not as well visited, the tunnels are not lit so if you want to go exploring be sure to take your own flashlight.
Inside the actual cathedral are beautiful large columns dividing the church into three sections. There are frescoes dating to the 10th and 11th century. At one time this cave was turned into a caravansary and so the frescoes are not easily visible due to the smoke covered walls and ceilings.
There was once a bazaar in Selime and caravans were frequently taken to the middle of the mountain for security. It is hard to imagine how camels climbed up to this area, I must assume some massive amounts of erosion have taken place since those days.
On the backside of the mountain is Mother Mary Church. The exquisite entry to this church sits way up on the mountain and is simple to spot from the ground but impossible to actually find without the aid, in our case, of the parking lot attendant and a 5TL tip. There are quite a few frescoes inside this church. They are not in great shape, but accessible none-the-less.
This entire area is covered in fairy chimneys that have a more pyramidal shape than the ones found in the Goereme area.
For Star Trek fans, the Selimi Cathedral was used for stock photo shots. It would be difficult to imagine using it for anything else, as negotiating the hill requires a very fit person and a strong faith that your shoes will hold on the steep terrain.