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CEMİL

Cemil1The tiny Cappadocian village of Cemil can be found on the road heading south from Mustafapaşa to Soğanlı. For most visitors it is just somewhere to bypass on the way to somewhere else but those who do pause and take the turn on the right that leads into the village will find a piece of quintessential Cappadocia just about hanging on on both sides of a steep gorge.

You come here not so much for specific sights as for the evidence of the fast-vanishing troglodytic lifestyle, the few families who haven't shipped out to Ankara or İstanbul still living in stone-fronted houses that mainly consist of cave rooms carved into the bedrock. Here they still rear their animals in cave stables, bake their bread in stone ovens, hang their grapes in caves to keep fresh during the winter, and chop enormous quantities of wood to see them through the harsh local winter.Cemilchurch

The one specific attraction to look out for is the huge early 19th-century church complete with portico and delicate belltower that was built on a terrace cut into the side of the gorge. Ruinous inside, it must once have been wonderfully colourful with its columns painted to resemble marble and there are still traces of frescoes (two layers of them in one place) on the wall.

The portico, too, is decorated with frescoes whose iconography is somewhat enigmatic: what looks like Jesus asleep on the back of a lion, for example. That they are dated 1914 suggests just how unanticipated was the expulsion order that descended on the local Greeks in 1924.

Just beyond Cemil is the rock-cut monastic complex at Keşlik.

Sleeping

There are no hotels or pensions here. The best choice locally is in Mustafapaşa.

Transport info

There are no buses timed to suit visitors to the village so you will need a private car to get here.

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