These are rock cut ruins of a church carved by persecuted Christians. The Cappadocia valley became an important center of monasticism that lasted from the 4th to the 14th centuries. There are an estimated 150 churches and several monasteries in the canyon between the villages of Ihlara and Selime.
Goreme, an important Christian centre in the early years of the Middle Ages, was a bishopric administered by Mokissos near Aksaray in the 11th and 13th centuries. Despite the vast number of monasteries, churches and chapels in the vicinity of Goreme, there are not many inscriptions bearing dates. For this reason, these religious buildings are mainly dated according to the iconography or architectural features.
It is believed that Goreme and its surroundings were used as a necropolis by the people of Vanessa (Avanos) in the Roman Periods. Both the monumental twin pillared Roman tomb hollowed out into a fairy chimney in the centre of Goreme and the presence of numerous tombs in the vicinity support that idea.
Goreme served as a physical and an intellectual oasis for the people who have lived here. Hittites found refuge from the Phrygian invaders while early Christian monks sought its isolation in a remote corner of the kingdom during the 2nd century Roman persecutions and were later sheltered from the Arab invasions in the 7th and 8th centuries.
For more context and history:
Engineering an Empire: The Byzantines
As much of the world descended into the Dark Ages after the fall of Rome, the Byzantine Empire shone brilliantly. Ingenious but ruthless, the Byzantines ruled over vast swaths of Europe and Asia for more than a thousand years.