Archaeologists have discovered a fifth century Turkish church during the excavations in world’s largest underground city in Cappadocia region of Central Turkey.
“This place is even bigger than the other historical churches in Cappadocia. It was built underground and has original frescoes that have survived to this day,” the mayor of Nevsehir, Hasan Unver, told Hurriyet Daily News.
“We didn’t even think of finding such a structure when we first started works. But excavations and cleaning work are continuing and we hope to find new data relating to the history of Cappadocia,” the mayor said.
“It is reported that some of the frescoes here are unique,” Unver continued. “There are exciting depictions like fish falling from the hand of Jesus Christ, Him rising up into the sky, and the bad souls being killed. When the church is completely revealed, Cappadocia could become an even bigger pilgrimage center of Orthodoxy.”
The ancient underground city consisting of about 3.5 miles of tunnels, churches and escape galleries was discovered in December 2014. The city is said to belong to the 5th century A.D.
“We have stopped work in order to protect the wall paintings and the church. When the weather gets warmer in the spring, we will wait for humidity to evaporate and then we will start removing the earth,” archaeologist Ali Aydin was quoted as saying.
“Only a few of the paintings have been revealed. Others will emerge when the earth is removed. There are important paintings in the front part of the church showing the crucifixion of Jesus and his ascension to Heaven. There are also frescoes showing the Apostles, the saints and other prophets Moses and Elyesa [Elijah].”
Five more churches have been found in the city pointing at the existence of Christians in the country since the beginning of Christianity. Christianity spread to Turkey in the fourth century.