The Balatlar Church Complex

The Balatlar Church Complex

Sinop's Balatlar Church, also known as the Sinope Koimesis Church, is a complex of historical and religious significance, spanning back through the ages from Roman to Ottoman times. This area has been utilized for worship for many centuries by various empires that have occupied the region.

The ancient architectural style of Sinop can be challenging to understand upon first viewing. Nevertheless, the Balatlar Church or Mitridates Palace, a well-known building, symbolizes this ancient city's rich history.

The Balatlar Church Complex

The Balatlar Church was originally a cross-shaped church structure that had a roof, but over time it has mostly collapsed, leaving only the 5 to 6-meter-tall walls standing. The walls comprise triangular-shaped chambers that are interconnected with each other, leaving behind remnants of its original structure. Additionally, there is a cistern consisting of four sections with a triangular bottom and a vaulted roof, all interconnected with one another.

The Balatlar Church is surrounded by chambers containing high walls. The purpose of the church was originally unclear, but there have been a few different views on what it might be. One thought is that the name comes from 'Palatium, meaning palace which would date back to ancient Rome and early Byzantium times.

The chambers of the structure have been thought to have served as granaries or part of a Roman-era gymnasium or bath complex in Sinop, given the presence of nearby cisterns that conform to the layout of a full-scale bathhouse. It is also believed that the church was later converted into a monastery. These findings support the hypothesis that such structures existed in Sinop.

Geophysical work was used to identify the excavation area of the well-known architectural remains in Sinop from Roman times, specifically a pool complex, which includes the Pistina (pool), Apoditerium (changing room section), Caldarium (hottest section of baths), Hypocaust (heating installations section), and Tepidarium (tepid section).

To further explore the site, a proton magnetometer was employed to measure the vertical gradient of the area, and maps generated from this showed magnetic anomalies that corresponded with underground heating installation sites belonging to Roman baths. In addition, a 500 Mhz GPR system was used as part of survey work at the Balatlar Church, which uncovered significant new graves at different depths throughout the church grounds.