The ancient city of Kilistra, located on the historic King Road in the central Anatolian province of Konya, is drawing attention for its conical rock formations which resemble “fairy chimneys” found in Cappadocia.
Like Cappadocia, the ancient city was home to Christian communities and historical buildings, including a cross-planned chapel, hyacinth church, large water cistern, churches, monasteries, watchtowers, shelters and ancient roads. The remains of these structures make Kilistra an important center of faith history and tourism.
In Meram district’s Gökyurt neighborhood, the ancient city began to serve as a settlement in the third century B.C. Its population, particularly the Christian community, multiplied in the Hellenistic and Roman eras.
Nowadays, is popular among tourists who visit Turkey for faith tourism.
Professor Fethullah Arık, president of the Geology Engineers Konya Branch, said that the ancient city also served as an outpost.
“A saint named Thecla escaped from the pagan rule in Konya and came to the Christian settlements in the Hatunsaray region. She came to Hatunsaray because she was under risk of serious punishment because of her work in Konya to spread Christianity. Kilistra was seen as an outpost of Hatunsaray to prevent attacks from faithless people,” Arık said.
Similar to Cappadocia, the Christians built many churches in the Hatunsaray region.
“Most of the architectural structures from that period are rock-carved. There are churches, chapels and living spaces in these buildings, and this is a spot that we see as very important in terms of history as well as in terms of faith tourism since it is right next to Konya,” the professor said.
The region is similar to Cappadocia due to its rock formations.
“Kilistra is a region of volcanic rocks that were formed about 3 to 11 million years ago. In the area where the main church is located in Kilistra, especially the rocks are volcanic rocks. These are tuffs that were welded after the explosion. Because they can be easily carved and processed, this region was chosen,” Arık said.
“It is true that they are like fairy chimneys. Fairy chimneys have a morphology that protects the underlying structure especially in the areas where the volcanic layers are intact. Such structures can easily be carved into rooms and places of worship; living spaces can be created. The fairy chimney structures that we see in many parts of Central Anatolia are also present in the Kilistra area, albeit on a smaller scale,” he said.