Sunday being a day of rest, let’s take a trip back to this space in February 2015. On Sundays back then I tried to feature churches from my travels. I still have several churches I haven’t talked about – maybe I should return to that habit.

Anything free when you are traveling is a good thing, given that travel can be so expensive. Of course if you don’t know it is free it kind of defeats the point. That is the case of the Buckle Church.


The church is part of the Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia, Turkey, but it is actually located outside the entrance to the museum, which means you can see it without charge. But you don’t realize that until after you have paid your museum admission and seen it on the map showing the location of the various caves. Of course, you will want to see the whole area anyway, and 15 Turkish Lira is a reasonable admission price.

Tokali Kilise (The Buckle Church) is the oldest of the churches in the region, carved into the volcanic rock in the10th century (or perhaps earlier). I was struck by the colorful, vibrant frescoes, much brighter than the other churches in the museum area. It is always impressive to see how people a millennium ago used art to express their faith.

We probably don’t do enough of that today. I realize it is partly a cost thing, but modern churches don’t have the same “wow” factor that ancient ones do. Modern architecture is more functional, and interior decoration for the most part is less impressive. There are probably few people nowadays who would commission an artist to paint a Sistine Chapel, as was done by Popes Sixtus IV and Julius II. Perhaps we have lost our appreciation of the arts.

The Buckle Church was the last thing we saw on our visit to the Goreme Open Air Museum. It was a fitting finale.


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