A historical structure from the Byzantine era, Canli Church deserves a visit from every tourist. The church has many detailed rock carved structures and it’s situated on barren hills from where you can get a view of Hasan Mount. There are many reasons why we highly recommend visiting this Byzantine site; cave rooms, several churches, amazing views, and more. The site became apparent in the 10th century, and it became very prominent in the middle of the 11th century.
The church is located between the Ihlara Valley and the city of Aksaray, and it’s just at a distance of 14.7km from Aksaray. The rock-carved structures run side by side with the asphalt road. The site covers a great area, more than 1km in length. There are many rooms, so you need to spend a few hours if you want to explore it properly.
The site got its name from the Canli Church, and this is, indeed, its main feature. It’s a large, nicely built, stone-carved church. It dates back to the 11th century. The design, structure, and artistry are truly amazing. It’s better in terms of its beautiful structure than many churches of the region, including even the Red Church, located near Guzelyurt.
The church has an elaborate exterior and the stonework is extremely precise, this is the feature that defines the church, more so than others. The narthex is extremely tall and the façade appears to be a two-story structure, with both the reds bricks and local stone. Only a few frescoes have survived and they are also an example of brilliant work. The church was painted again in the 13th century and a side church was built to the north. This freestanding structure is under a landslide.
Around the church, there are more than 23 rock-carved structures. They are self-contained units of accommodations combines to form residences spanning over 1km. The site was excavated in the 1990s, and that’s when mummies and engravings were found. There are cave dwellings and other cave settlements around the church. These large structures lie along the outer edge of the mountain. Many of these structures are small chapels and churches.
Even though the settlement is not in its best condition, the amazing structure and isolated setting of the site make it a great spot to visit. The church had many elaborate frescoes, but a majority of them could not be preserved. You can still see them, but you might not figure out what they are about. The structures around the church had been used for both religious and non-religious purposes.
During 900–1200 AD, which was the middle of the Byzantine Era, this site was of extreme significance. Though abandoned today, Canli Church is a great place to visit, as it gives you a tour of history.