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YUSUF KOÇ KİLİSE, GÖREME

yusuf1Close to the centre of Göreme amid spectacular Cappadocian scenery the frescoed Yusuf Koç Kilişe (church) is hidden inside a rock cone accessible by a battered staircase. 

Inside you find yourself looking at a church that once had two internal domes, six columns and twin apses. Walls, ceiling and pillars were all covered with colourful 11th-century frescoes, most of them now rather the worst for wear. One of the domes is intact although the other was broken when a pigeonhouse was cut into it from the outside. One of the apses is also intact although the frescoed figures are covered in graffiti. The other was also shattered in modern times. 

Immediately to the right of the entrance are the large figures of Sts Helena and Constantine holding the True Cross. On the south wall beside them is a large image of Sts Theodore and George, both of them warrior saints who found favour in what was at that time a tense frontier region. yusuf2

On the north wall there is a particularly elegant scene of the Annunciation, the only image taken from the Life of Christ in this church. 

Both domes were decorated with huge figures of angels; tiny carved and painted seraphim appear on the squinches. 

Otherwise, most of the paintings are of saints with their names inscribed beside them in Greek.

The church is generally kept locked but you may be able to find the key with the couple who serve tea and sell headscarves behind the cone. If you look carefully at their home you will see that it was once part of a rock-cut monastery with a long rock-cut table in what must have been its refectory. One of the cones has attractive paintings around the entrance to a pigeonhouse; the date is given in Arabic numerals. 

yusuf3Transport info

The church is within easy walk of the centre of Göreme. It's signed off the road running towards the Güvercinlik Vadisi (Pigeon Valley).

 

 

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