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AYNALI KİLİSE (FIRTINA KİLİSE), GÖREME

aynali2On the plateau above the Göreme Open Air Museum, just off the main road running up to the junction with the Ürgüp-Nevşehir road is the rock-cut monastic complex known as the Aynalı Kilise. It's clearly signposted and identifiable from the simple blind arcading on the exterior. There's a small free car park at the site. 

The entrance to the site leads through a small side chamber into the church which has a nave and two aisles suported by four detached columns standing on large, solid bases. A narrow apse is up a step and fronted by a broken stone screen. The nave is barrel-valuted and lofty. There are no windows to the outside. aynali1

Although the church is painted all the art is simple, almost all of it in red and white, the majority of it geometric. It's called the Aynalı Kilise (Symmetrical Church)  because the patterns on opposite walls mirror each other. 

On stylistic grounds Lyn Rodley dates the church (and the monastery of which it forms a part) to the mid to late 11th century.

At the west end of the nave a door leads through to a large room with a rock-cut bench at the far end. This two has simple red and white paintings. A painted arch running across the ceiling will be identified by the custodian as a two-headed snake. That is not likely to be true but one of the "heads" is carved with a primitive sketch of a scorpion. On the wall to the left of the door there's a very faded image of an archer in a tall hat taking aim at a small bird. 

aynali3An entrance on the left leads into another room which could be sealed off with the sort of rolling stone used in the underground cities. Steps tp the right lead up to another large room which was later reused as a giant pigeon-house. From one side a tunnel leads off and winds back down to emerge in a room behind the church (the lower gate may be locked so check with the custodian before walking along it. 

Transport info

You can eaily walk to the church from the centre of Göreme although the last part of the walk will be all uphill. It's about 2km in all. 

Alternatively you can hop off the hourly bus on the way back from Ürgüp to Göreme, visit the church, then walk back downhill all the way. 

You could also get off one of the more frequent Ürgüp to Nevşehir buses and ask to be put off at the Göreme-Ortahisar junction. It's just a short walk downhill from there.

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Painted scorpion in Aynalı Kilise

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