Çavuşin village, located about halfway between Avanos and Göreme, is surrounded by a valley which becomes gradually wider, allowing extended farming. Until the 1920s it had a mixed population with many Christian Orthodox families. The old village, which was abandoned several decades ago due to rock falls, was all carved into the hillside. The inhabitants of Çavuşin lived in houses which were cut into a massive rock wall. Now the insides of many of the dwellings are exposed due to hundreds and hundreds of years of weathering and erosion. They are covered in rubble and huge rocks and boulders, much of their former walls and various outer bits of the buildings. So, now from a distance you can look into a church or what was once someone’s cozy little cave home. A winding narrow path takes you to the top of the village. It is worthwhile climbing up there to see the valley behind it and in the distance one can see the pink pinnacles of Zelve and in the foreground a group of spectacular fairy chimneys. Until the 1920s Zelve was a mainly Christian village. Its inhabitants lived in houses which were cut into a group of pink rocks. In the 1950s it was abandoned by its Muslim population too.

The current village of Çavuşin is located on the road. It is still a quiet place, with men sitting drinking tea at the tea shop near the mosque, women in traditional Turkish village clothes (but also many younger girls wearing jeans and T-shirts and no head scarfs), and old houses with farm equipment here and there. Presumably most people who live here are still involved in farming to a certain extent.

Çavuşin has two churches, the upper church, the great basilica dedicated to St. John the Baptist (located on the cliff above the village) and and the lower church, Çavuşin (Nicephorus Phocas) Church, commemorating a visit of the famous Cappadocian emperor Nicephorus Phocas.

The upper church, called St. John’s Church, is probably one of the oldest and biggest cave churches in the region, dating to the 5th century AD. he Christians living in Çavuşin prayed in the old church near the top of the village. It had three entrances leading to three now almost separated naves. In the old times the naves were only separated by huge columns, but later the spaces between them were filled with stones, probably due to the danger of collapsing. The framed doors and windows of two naves are still in place while the rock closing the third nave has collapsed. Today a shaky footbridge is the only access to the church. The interior of the church has elaborate mouldings, columns and arches as well as reliefs showing crosses and stars. Their style is more similar to Syrian Christian architecture rather than the Byzantine one. No entrance fee is required and you can spend half a day climbing around and exploring the church and the abandoned rock dwellings high above the village.

The lower church, named Nicephorus Phocas, dates from the 960′s AD. It was founded by Nikephoros (Nikephoros = bringing victory) Phocas II, a Byzantine general who was born in Cappadocia. The church probably used to be bigger than it is today. The visible paintings show that the narthex used to be closed, but is open now due to rock falls. The main church has tunnel vaults, a high nave, and 3 apses. The complex includes 8-10 rooms on at least 3 levels. The entrance fee is 8TL and it is most probably not worth it.

The river bed crossing the village of Çavuşin is linked with another river bed at a distance of 11 km from the village. The names of the valleys crossed by the river bed are the Güllüdere (Rose) and Kızıl Çukur (Red). A road which passes through Çavuşin leads us to these valleys where 12 churches can be found.

There are buses from both Göreme and Avanos to Çavuşin every hour. From Göreme they can be taken next to the bus station on Nevşehir-Avanos road at 15-20 minutes past every hour. A ticket costs about 2 TL. Çavuşin can also be visited on the Fairy Chimneys Tour, Winter Special Tour 1, The One-day Express Private Tour, Private Essential Cappadocia Tour and Hiking Tour 1.

Çavuşin Çavuşin
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