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DÖRTKİLİSE

"Four Churches"                    Population: zero

4KiliseNorth-west of Yusufeli lies a stupendously beautiful road with mountains looming on either side and the valley floor lush with greenery, some of it the acid-green of paddy fields.

Drive along it and you will come to the hamlet of Tekkale where you turn right and keep going for another 7km to find the church at Dörtkilise (Four Churches), an austere building, its facade covered with blind arcading, its interior concealing some soaring pointed arches that surely foretell Gothic architecture. More importantly the wall of the sanctuary still bears clear traces of three bands of fresco that are not yet completely beyond recovery.

The church dates back to the 10th century and was probably restored by David Magistros. It was originally the centrepiece of a monastery. Today there are still remains of a refectory attached to it and of a separate building that may have been a chapel.

Like its twin in Barhal, the church at Dörtkilise lacks a dome but because it was never turned into a mosque it stands in ruins with foliage growing out of its walls. 4Kilise2

The church is signed from the road and you follow a path through a meadow and across a brook to reach it. It's a truly idyllic setting.

Why "Four Churches"?

The judges are out on that one. There is another church beside the castle at Tekkale and a third uphill at Bayırkilise, beyond Dörtkilise itself. No one seems to know whether a fourth was ever built. Alternatively it may merely refer to the church itself, the adjacent chapel and two other parts of the attached monastery. 

Sleeping

There is a simple pension in Tekkale but most people will probably visit from Yusufeli.

Transport info

Even if you could find a dolmuş from Yusufeli to Tekkale you would still need onward transport along the unmade road to the church so you might as well agree a return fare from Yusufeli and have done.

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