Alahan Monastery

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Eastern Church

The Alahan Monastery is a one hour walking distance from the village of Geçimli, located in the province of Mersin, Turkey. The site is being considered to be put on the World Heritage list of sites who have "outstanding universal value" to the world.[1]

In 2012, Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Mersin Governorship started restoration work on the site because of its history and heritage.

On May 29, 2012 Greek Patriarch Bartholomew visited the monastery.


The Christian monastery at Alahan is located in the mountains of Isauria in Southern Asia Minor near Mut on the road between Karaman and Silifke. Residing at an altitude of 1250 m. it has a splendid view over the valley of Göksu River. Constructed at the second half of the fifth century but already abandoned in the seventh century. Its remains include two churches, one (The East Church) is extremely well preserved, a baptistery, a colonnaded runway running the full length of the site, and a couple of subsidiary buildings, plus some old caves and graves. The complex may be funded by Emperor Zeno (474-491), who was from the region. The buildings stretches along the side of the mountain and covers an area of 30x200 meters. It is quite possible that the monastery official, and monks lived in the houses surrounding the complex. The monastery stands as the finest achievement of native Isaurian stonemasons and sculptors. Alahan is a key site in the history of early Byzantine architecture, half a century before the great achievements of Anicia Juliana and Justinian in Constantinople.[2]


The Ottoman traveler, Evliya Çelebi, visited the monastery in 1671-72 and his account recorded his amazement along with his recommendation that, "This is something that deserves a visit."[3] The first European vistor Count Leon de Laborde who arrived in 1826 was enthusiatic but inaccurate in his written accounts of the monastery.[3] This was followed by the English cleric, A.C. Headlam, who wrote an exhaustive article which gives meticulous detail to the monastic complex as well as the church located at the east end.[3]

World Heritage Status[edit]

This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on February 25, 2000 in the Cultural category.


  1. ^ World Heritage Center: The Criteria for Selection
  2. ^ Alahan- An Early Christian Monastery in Southern Turkey Pictures: [1]
  3. ^ a b c Alahan Monastery and its Setting in the Isaurian country Side, Michael Gough, Alahan: An Early Christian Monastery in Southern Turkey, ed. Mary Gough, (Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1985), 4.


Coordinates: 36°47′29″N 33°21′13″E / 36.791323°N 33.353701°E / 36.791323; 33.353701