Film info

Creator / Collector

The train whistles and goes away in the bare mountain range through a tunnel. Getting out of the tunnel, we see a valley and the sun that as sets, paints the horizon in the shades of red.

We are in the Göreme Valley in Cappadocia. Views from the lunar landscape and the lens stands on women who wear chādor and are accompanied by their children holding Turkish flags.

A view of the village of Göreme (Korema for the Greeks who lived there) from above through a cell of the outdoor geological museum, a beautiful natural creation, a number of churches and houses carved into the rock formations of the town.

We watch monk cells, we climb and get lost in the carved rocks and in the dark small churches.

The film closes with views of the Göreme Valley or the Fairy Chimneys for others. These geological formations are a phenomenon of natural processes.


Film Information

Bonar, Andrew Graham

SD (720x576)



Duration (seconds)

Super 8mm

Creator's description

From Kayseri it is a short journey by car to the extraordinary valley of Göreme. The valley is dotted with strangely-shaped mounds and rocks. This unique landscape was shaped by erosion of volcanic tufa deposited many aeons ago during successive eruptions of a now extinct volcano. Subsequent oxidization of the soil produced a pleasing variety of colours ranging from rust-red to grey-green.

At some point in time –it is not clear exactly when– the local inhabitants of this area began to carve dwellings and sanctuaries out of the relatively soft rock. This development reached its peak during the Arab incursions in the 7th century and during the subsequent troubled times up to about the 13th century. During this period the inhabitants were predominantly Christian, and in addition to making homes for themselves inside the rocks they also carved out a large number of churches, which they decorated with paintings in the Byzantine style.

Still more extraordinary, they hollowed out huge subterranean cities for use as places of refuge during difficult times. One of these underground cities has seven levels, one beneath the other, and is thought to have been large enough to contain up to 60,000 people. Intricate ventilation and water storage systems made it possible to live underground for months at a time. Two of the cities are actually connected by a tunnel nine kilometers long.

It is astonishing what erosion can do. Here you can see three distinct layers of rock. The middle layer –the cheese in the sandwich if you like- is softer than the other two layers, and has therefore eroded faster, giving rise to some precarious feats of balancing.
Bonar, Andrew Graham