When you have seen many fascinating churches in Cappadocia, your next stop should be the St. George Church, which is an uncommon church. It’s a cave church built in the 13th century in a small burial cave. What’s interesting to note here is that no other cave church was built in this region after the St. George Church.
The St. George Church (Turkish: “Kirkdamalti” Church) is located on the Northside of Ihlara Valley, just at a distance of 1km from Belisirma village. From the river, it lies on the west side, and a flight of stairs takes you to it. Aksaray Museum reinstated the church in 2018 and now all the floor graves can be seen. But, you can’t enter the nave, you are only allowed to look into it.
As you might have already assumed, the architectural plan of the church is quite irregular. The site was likely a burial cave, and it was turned into a church only later. The designs or formations of the some walls were not an architectural design, instead, the pre-existing graves and burial chambers were responsible for their shapes. Originally, the entrance was next to the apse, and it’s clearly evident.
The church was used as a funerary place and Christian cemetery, just like the Egritas Church located nearby. There are around 97 graves on the floor and around burial rooms. Present inside the arcosolia and tomb chambers, the graves lie on different levels. Some graves were made before the church was built. This supports the idea that this site was a burial grotto originally.
The northern wall has fallen off, but not because of the rock collapses. When the structure was built, the northern wall was made from ashlar stones and it wasn’t a rock-cut wall. Another interesting thing is that by the side of the back wall, two cut stones lie, and there are more stones in the grave. It’s likely that these stones were from the original north wall.
The church’s external wall has fallen. Even though the church is far from its original state, it’s eminent because of its unusual structure, plentiful graves, and noteworthy door panel.