A historical structure in Cappadocia, Bahattin Samanligi Church is one of the must-visit churches in the region. The church dates back to the 11th century and it has detailed carvings. The church is located near Ihlara Valley in Belisirma village, on the west side of the Melendiz Stream, nearby Column Church. Even though there is no official evidence of when the church was built, its architecture and painting style suggests it was built between 10th and 11th century.
From the frescoes, you get the idea of a matured artistic approach. The frescoes are well preserved, even though they appear dark now due to the smoke. Originally, it wasn’t a stand-alone building, it was within a huge complex. There are three rooms nearby, with the main room being a tall banquet hall. Above the church, there is a niched façade. The cliff-side rock fell, but it’s likely that there were a courtyard and several other rooms.
The site was the property of a superior Byzantine family. Around the nave of the church, you can see an engraving that mentions a Barbas, which could possibly be a citizen with imperial titles. There are also other details available that hint towards the possibility that the donor belongs to a wealthy class.
The scenes are decorated with elaborate designs. The arches and open spaces feature strings of pearls. The ornamental motifs decorate the free space and represent power and status.
It’s a small, single-nave church and its structure is like any other Byzantine architecture. The carving, although a bit orthodox, is specific and elaborate. The walls have arches set within one another as well as a square cornice trim.
The entrance is from the south wall, directly into the nave. This is because there is no narthex. The attractive old-fashioned area has ample space, as the ground was lowered later on by the builders and the side benches were removed. Maybe they did this to create more floor graves.
Even though the church is small and only a few visitors explore it, the luxurious church shows the high connections and status of the donor.