The Balatlar Church Complex

The Balatlar Church Complex

The Balatlar Church or Sinope Koimesis Church in Sinop is a stratigraphic church complex that stretches back through time from Roman to Ottoman times. The area has been continuously used for religious purposes over the span of many centuries, including by the Romans and Ottomans.

Understanding the local architecture can be difficult at first glance because of how long it's been since Sinop city center was founded on the same spot. However, one very old building has become an icon symbolizing this ancient city--the Balatlar Church or Mitridates Palace.

The Balatlar Church Complex

The Church of Balatlar is a cross‐shaped church structure that was originally roofed but now has mostly collapsed. The 5 to 6 meter tall walls remain and consists, logically, of triangular planned chambers interconnected with each other. Despite the original structure being in ruin, it is assumed some remnants of an inner structure still remain. A cistern of four sections which has a triangular bottom and vaulted roof that is linked together are found here.

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 large chambers that make up the structure might historically have been used to store grains, or researchers also think they may be part of a Roman-era gymnasium of Sinop bath complex on the site. This is because there are cisterns nearby which conform to the layout of a full-scale bathhouse, and it is assumed that it was later converted into a monastery. The fact that such structures were found in Sinop supports this hypothesis.

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

A proton magnetometer was used to measure the vertical gradient of the site. Maps generated show magnetic anomalies that correspond with underground heating installation sites belonging to Roman baths. As part of survey work in Balatlar Church, a 500 Mhz GPR system is being employed that has uncovered significant new graves in areas throughout the church grounds at different depths.