The Dark Church: A Unique Orthodox Church That Has Been Carved Out of a Rock

Originally appeared at: Orthodox Times

The church dates back to the 11th century and is one of the main churches in the monastic complex that the Turks now call the “Open Museum of the Göreme Valley”. Because of the minimal light that enters the interior from a very small skylight, the paintings have been preserved in very good condition without altering their colors.

For this reason, the church was named “Karanlik kilise” meaning “Dark Church” and is one of the best-preserved Byzantine monuments in Cappadocia.

The church is dedicated to the Ascension of the Saviour, like the other carved Byzantine churches throughout the valley, turning it into an open-air museum of great historical importance. The rock on which it was built was created by lava and volcanic ash after the eruption of Mount Argaeon. It is cross-shaped with six domes, four columns, and three arches.

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