About 5 kilometres north from the major tourism hub of Goreme, sits the old and new towns of Cavusin. They don’t receive as much admiration or even mentions in guidebooks when it comes to talking about Cappadocia’s major touristic sites, yet behind the boundaries sits a quaint town with a bonded community and a marvellous historical tale to tell.
The History of Cavusin
Like many other places in Turkey, it once used to be a thriving and close knit community of Turks and Greeks living side by side. Unfortunately the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, ended that when Greek citizens were forced to return to their homeland and vice versa.
Turks continued to live in their homes which were caves burrowed out of the soft volcanic rock that litters across the entire Cappadocia landscape but it became unsafe from falling boulders. Slowly, citizens deserted their cave homes for manmade housing in the new part of Cavusin and for many years, it looked like the old part would end up in rack and ruin.
Tourism however has played a part in ensuring that its story does not fold away into the history book and it is mainly because of an old and rather quaint church sitting at the top of a rock majestically overlooking the old town.
Church of Saint John the Baptist
Reached by walking to the top of the large rock and over a shaky wooden bridge, visitors arrive at the entrance to the church, which although does not extensively display impressive frescoes as seen in the churches of the Goreme open air museum, still has a majestic presence and holy atmosphere.
Dating from the 5th century, it was originally one structure but during the 10th century, Christians separated it into three prayer rooms to keep it standing and reinforce the supporting pillars. Evidence of this can be seen at the edge of the walls, which are framed by the original pillars.
With a cathedral like appearance, unfortunately most of the mosaics were damaged over the years but look closely and you can see the original stories of which one shows a Byzantine emperor riding a white horse.
Obviously the church is the major feature of the old town of Cavusin but as you stand there, it is worth turning around for an amazing panoramic view of the new town and the entrance into Rose Valley.