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Cappadocia Dark Church

Cappadocia Dark Church with magnificent frescoes

This is the most important ad magnificent church in the Görme Valley. Dating to the twelfth to thirteenth ceturies, although it was named ‘Karanlık’ [meaning ‘dark’ i Turkish] because it was protected naturally for centuries from the ravages of time, light and moisture because of its dark and secluded situation, its frescoes have suffered severe damage because it could not protect itself from the ravages of mankind.
It is necessary to purchase a separete ticket to visit Karanlık Kilise, which only re-opened after a lengthy restoration of its frescoes. But be assured that the superb beauty of its frescoes is well worth the payment of this additional fee.

Karanlık Kilise has a cruciform plan, cross-ribbed vaulting, a central dome, four columns, one cetral and two small apses, and is entirely carved into the rock. In the entry area, the remains of another church from an earlier era can be seen which, despite being entirely in ruins, has geometric ornamentation that is stil visible. Passing through here, one enters Karanlık Kilise though a low, narrow door; the frescoes the church, because of the insufficient light, were executed by making use of mirrors and polished metal placards to reflect the sunlight.

In the narthex there is a large representation of Mary and Jesus among the twelve apostles, and the ceiling of the narthex portrasy the Ascension of Jesus, accompanied by four angels. Directly across from the entrace is a section that was used during the last years of the church as a burial chamber.

Upon entering the church through the narthex, one encounters the Nativity scene. In this composition we see Mary in the center, Jesus in his cradle in the upper right corner, and in the background, an ox and a donkey. In the cold stable, the ox and the donkey are warming Jesus with their breath and by licking him. In the lower left, Saint Joseph regarding this birth with an expression of amazement. On the interior of the vault directly above this scene we the Three Wise Kings presenting their gifts of gold, frankincense (an incense made from the resin of the Boswellia tree) and myrrh. Next to this composition are the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, portrayed writing their sacred books. The Lord of the Universe, or Pantocrator Christ, is displayed in almost all the churches in the most central location at the highest point. Jesus is portryed making a gesture of blessing wiht one hand while holding the Holy Bible in the other. The message of the Pantocrator Christ is that Jesus is both the Creator and the Savior. Another important scene is that of the Deisis, the Pantocrator Christ with Mary and John the Baptist on either side. The Deisis frescoes portray Mary and John the Baptist in supplication to Jesus fort he forgivenss of the sins of mankind on the Day of Judgment. The Deisis fresco in Karanlık Kilise is located in the upper part of apse, within a semicircular niche.

Above the niche wall on the right side that is known as the diakonikon is the scene of Jesus and his apostles at the Last Supper. The fish in the center of the table is the symbol of Jesus and Christianity, which is derived from the ancient Greek word for fish, IKTUS. The letters consist of the first letters of five different words:I/İesus-Jesus,K/Kristus, T/ Teus, U/:Uilius, S/Soter,which together represent, ’Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.’ To the right is the scene of the Anastasis , or Resurrection, portraying Jesus raising Adam and Eve to heaven, whit the devil, symbolizing the watchman to Hell, cowering beneath the feet of Jesus with his hands tied. Next to the broken Gates of Hell we ca see its locks and nails scattered on the ground. The same wall contains a fresco of the Crucifixion of Jesus on the Hill of Golgotha. The right side of the chest of Jesus has been pierced by the spear of the Roman soldier in front of Him, and is bleeding. On the other side the Virgin Mary, his sister Myriam (wife of Cleophas) and Mary Magdalene are weeping. A second solier to the left of Jesus is holding out to Him on the end of his spear a sponge soaked in vinegar to further increase His thirst. On either side of the cross are red and grey-colored balls symbolizing the sun and the moon. Directly above this fresco is the scene of the Betrayal of Jesus, and along the same wall are scenes depicting three angels and the miracle of the Raising of Lazarus from the Dead. Immediately above the door is the scene of Jesus, garbed in white, returning to the world in Resurrection, and in the vault directly beneath it are scenes showing the Entry of JJesus to Jerusalem. In this fresco Jesus is astride a donkey and people have removed their outer garments and spread them on the ground in the dokey’s path.In the fresco of the Baptism, the entire body of Jesus is immersed in the River Jordan. While John is baptizing Him, a dove alights on the head of Jesus. The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit,a member of the Holy Trinity sacred to Christianity. In another composition we see Mary and the Child Jesus in the scene of the Flight into Egypt.

Cappadocia Dark Church