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Cappadocia Buckle Church

Cappadocia Tokali Kilise - Buckle Church, largest in the region


The largest church in the region, Tokalı Kilise, is reminiscent of a cathedral. It is composed of three segments that were constructed at different periods: the Old, single-nave church, the New church and the Oldest church that was used as a cemetery. In addition, the chapel inside the new church could be considered a separate section on its own.


The Old barrel-vaulted and single-nave church appears to extend like a corridor along the building’s primary axis, but a careful examination reveals that the original plan was cruciform. When the new section was added to the eastern side, the apse of the old church was destroyed.

On the ceiling of the old church, which dates from the life of Jesus, you will find paintings detailing Bible stories from the Nativity to the Ascension. All of these scenes are taken from the New Testament.

On the right side are the scenes of the Annunciationn, the Visitation, the Trial by Water, the Journey to Bethlehem and the Nativity; on the left side you can see the Three Wise Kings, the Massacre of the Innocents, the Flight to Egypt, and the Assassination of Zechariah.


On the right side of the center zone are scenes of the Pursuit of Elizabeth, the Encounter of Jesus with John the Baptist, the Baptim of Jesus, and the Wedding at Cana.

To the left of center are the Miracle of the Wine, Peter and Andrew meeting Jesus and believing in Him in the Tiberiard Desert, Loaves and Fishes, the Appointment of the Apostles, the Healing of the Blind Man, Raising of Lazarus from the Dead; on the right, on the lower panel are the Entry to Jerusalem, the Last Supper, Judas’ Betrayal, Jesus before Pilate; on the left, on the lower panel are Simon of Cyrene on the Road to Calvary, the Crucified Jesus, the Descent from the Cross, the Burial of Jesus, the Women at the Empty Grave, the Descent of Jesus to Hell; and over the entrance is the Transfiguration. In addition there are frescoes of Saint Gregorios, the apostles and other saints.

The New church has a rectangular plan, a single narthex and a single corridor, and dates to the late tenth to early eleventh centuries. The most important characteristic of the new church is the range of the prevailing colors of its frescoes: blue of lapis lazuli, green, red and brown. The quality and beauty of the colors is almost never seen in other Cappadocian churches. The apse is separated from the nave by the columns which serve as the iconostas.

The parekklesion on the left, the chapel that is adjacent to the church but forms a separate section, has been carved out of the rock. There is no second section on the right.

The topics of the frescoes in the New church are rich and fascinating. The Annunciation, the Visitation, Joseph’s questioning of Mary, the Journey to Bethlehem, the Dream of Joseph, the Nativity, the Wise Kings, the Flight to Egypt, the Presentation of Jesus to the Scholars at the Temple, the calling of John the Baptist, miracles like the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine, the Feast of the Passover, the Apostle Peter's walk on the water of the Sea of Galilee, the Healing of the paralytic, the Raising of Lazarus from the Dead, along with scenes from the Passion such as Christ’s Entry to Jerusalem, Jesus on the road to Golgotha, the Crucifixion, Mary among the angels, the Descent from the Cross, the Women in front of the Empty Grave, Christ’s Descent into Hell with John the Baptist in the company of the prophets David and Solomon, and Mary’s Assumption into Heaven. Among the important post-Biblical men of Christianity you will see, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Gregory of Nazianzos and Saint Nicholas of Myra.


Buckle Church cappadocia