Çanlı (Bell) Church Ruins and Caves

Çanlı (Bell) Church Ruins and Caves

Located near Aksaray, the Çanlı Church Ruins and Caves sit atop barren hills overlooking Mount Hasan. With 25 elaborate rock-cut structures and a magnificent church, the site offers majestic views, endless cave rooms, and plentiful churches, making it a spectacular destination worth visiting.

Established in the 900s, the church reached its peak in the late 11th century. However, its decline began once Seljuk Turks arrived in the region in the 1100s.

Çanlı (Bell) Church Ruins and Caves

Çanlı Church is one of the largest and best-preserved stone-built churches in the region, boasting beautiful architecture and a historical setting unmatched by any other building.

The expansive cross-in-square nave (9m x 9m) with 3 slits in the apses is the original Byzantine church. The massive central dome was supported by four pillars, measuring 4.5 meters wide and 16 meters high. The tall 12-sided drum had four slits for interior illumination and a flattened cap at its top. Unfortunately, the dome collapsed during an earthquake in the 1950s.

The remaining frescoes are of professional craftsmanship, depicting miracle scenes from Christ's life. They were created some 200 years after the original church was erected. Later, in 1250 AD, a second parish church (paraekklesion) was added on the northern side, but it has been buried under a landslide.

The Çanlı Church area boasts more than 25 large, rock-hewn settlements, spanning one kilometer in length. These independent but adjoining dwellings exist as isolated residences providing shelter for their inhabitants.

The elaborate architecture suggests that the courtyard was inhabited by a prosperous community affiliated with Akhısar, visible 4 kilometers away. These courtyards were lavish, with an elite guard providing extravagant care and high-class horse stables for thoroughbred horses. From this, it can be deduced that the Çanlı Church and surrounding area were not a monastery, but rather a residential area.