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KIRK DAMALTI KİLİSESİ (The Church of St. George)

This church is situated 3 km from Ihlara entrance and 50 m above the west bank of the river. It has a very irregular shape. This church deserves special attention for a fresco depicting the donor. Many church frescoes include portraits of donors to the church or monastery, founders of the church or those who undertook to pay for their decoration. The majority of these portraits have either not survived at all or in a much deteriorated condition. The most interesting example is the fresco and inscription in Kırkdamaltı Church in Belisırma. This important document throws light on such question as the function of donor portraits, what types of donations were made, as well as the cultural and political situation of the time. The donors portrayed here are the Georgian princess Thamar and her husband Amirarzes Basileious, who are shown presenting a model of the church to Hagios Georgios, the saint to whom it is dedicated. Thamar donated a vineyard to the church, as explained in the inscription, which reads:

I the humble Lady Thamar donated the soil of a hillside vineyard for this temple which I made, I donated the vineyard purchased from Siara Phantenes.

In fact, the princess and her consort did not found the church itself as implied by the presentation of the model in the fresco and by the wording of the inscription, but paid for the frescoes, a task regarded as equivalent to creating the church. The model of the church only symbolised the giving of a donation. The inscription goes on to make this clear:

This temple founded in the name of the honourable great martyr Hagious Georgious has been splendidly decorated ... with the donations of Amirarzes Basileios, the wife of ... and the lady Thamar depicted opposite.

Further on the inscription mentions both the Seljuk Sultan Mesut II and the Byzantine emperor Andronicos II together. Dating from between 1283 and 1295 this inscription proves that the fresco work was carried out after the Seljuk conquest of Cappadocia:

... under the rule of the great Sultan Mesut, sublimest of the sublime, noblest of the noble, while our lord Andronicos was ruling over the Romans...

The model being presented by Thamar to Hagios Georgious in the fresco is depicted in the form of a church built of hewn stone, but clearly this only represents the rock carved Kırkdamaltı Church. Amirarzes Basileios is shown wearing a Seljuk kaftan and turban. The title of Amirarzes suggests that Basileios was presented with a fief, in return for which he would have provided a trained contingent of warriors when necessary, and that he was a Christian general (emir) in the service of the Seljuk sultan.

On the western wall there is a painting of St. George: the female donor is wearing Byzantine costume while her husband is dressed in Seljuk style with an inscription saying:

This most venerable church dedicated to the holy and great martyr St. George was magnificently decorated through the assistance, the high wish and care of the lady Thamar, here pictured, and of her Emir Basil Giagoupes , under his Majesty the most noble and Great Sultan Masud at the time when Sire Andronikos reigned over the Romans.

The historical facts give the date of the church as 1283-1295. which makes it one of the latest in the region.

The husband of the donor was probably in the service of the Seljuk Sultan, but the panel itself is the expression of Christian gratitude for the tolerance of the Seljuks.


Oddly enough, this church is named after a man who used it to store his hay. He could never have imagined that his name would be recorded in history.

It is located nearly 300m from Kırk Damaltı Kilisesi. It has a very simple plan: a barrel – vaulted naos with an apse adorned with niches. The church, which dates back to the first half of the 11th century, is located with twenty three scenes from the life of Christ.

KOKAR KİLİSE (The Church of Sweet Smells)

It can be reached by following the same path in the direction of Pürenli Seki. The church can be entered through a ruined apse , as in the case of Ağaçaltı. The original entrance has been blocked by a landslide.

On the left hand side as you can see the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Proof of the Virgin, the Nativity and the Adoration of the Magi. On the right we see the Last Supper, the Betrayal. Jesus being Led Away. Jesus before Annas and Caiaphos, the Crucifixion and the Entombment. On the door facing the entrance there is a Deesis above, with scenes of the Flight to Egypt and The Last Supper below scene was badly damaged when openings were made at a much later date for windows and a door leading into the burial chamber. On the ceiling we see the Ascension and the Pentecost together with a large Greek cross with the hand of God giving benediction in the center. On each side of the lower parts of the vaulting there are frescoes depicting the apostles standing and seated.

Beside the door, there is the scene of the Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace, but inscribed with their Babylonian names (Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego) instead of the Hebrew ones in the Greek form (Ananias, Misael and Azarias). This is quite unique in Byzantine iconography.

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