In the 4th century small anchorite communities began to form in the region, acting on instruction of Saint Basil of Caesarea. They carved cells in the soft rock. During the iconoclastic period (725-842) the decoration of the many sanctuaries in the region was held to a minimum, usually symbols such as the depiction of the cross. After this period, new churches were dug into the rocks and they were richly decorated with colourful frescoes.
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