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AĞAÇALTI KİLİSESİ (Church under the Tree)

Turn right at the bottom of the stairs from the Ihlara entrance and you will find yourself 10 m from the church. Prepare yourself for a surprise when you enter the church through the ruined arch and find yourself confronted by a totally different style of architecture. This church is quite different from the other churches of the Byzantine world of the 10th and 11th century Cappadocia, with its harmoniously contrasted colours of red, green and yellow, the subjects of its paintings and its decoration of flowers, lozengers, rosettes and chequer-board patterns, all betraying strong eastern influence. The Church, also known as the Church of Daniel or the Church of Pantassa, has a free cross architectural plan.

On the wall opposite the entrance there is a fresco of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. The left cross-arm contains the Annuciation, the Visitation, the Nativity and the Magi. The Magi are wearing caps of Phrygian or Eastern mode. The right cross-arm contains the Flight into Egypt, the Baptism and the Dormition.

The Dormition of the Virgin (Koimesis) is unique as far as Cappadocia is concerned. It is composed of two scenes. In the first scene, Mary is lying on a bed, with Christ accompanied by St. John sitting on one side of the bed to recover her soul. In the upper scene Christ is shown holding his Mother’s soul, with an Angel behind him.

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