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Cappadocia Serpent Church

Yilanli Kilise - Serpent Church, with its fascinating architecture


This church decorated with frescoes produced in the eleventh century has an interesting architectural form, with neither domes nor columns. The name of the church ( yılan means serpent in Turkish) is derived from the fresco on the wall to the left of the entrance depicting Saint George and Saint Theodoros killing a serpent in the form of a dragon. On the right of the fresco is Emperor Constantine with his mother Helea and ‘’ The True Cross´’ between them. On the apse wall directly across from the entrance is a depiction of Jesus with a small child being educated in a religious school.

In the fresco on the right-hand wall, we see the most fasciating composition in Yılanlı Kilise. In this fresco Saint Basileios is depicted holding the holy book in his hand. Next to him is Saint Thomas, another of the Cappadocia priests, making a gesture of consecration, with Saint Onuphrius beside him. Onuphrius is said to have remained in the desert for sixty years, subsisting solely on roots and dates, and was later elevated to sainthood. Frescoes of Onuphrius, who was actually of Syrian origin, can also be seen together with Saint Simon,also Syrian, in the Hagia sophia church in Trabzon, the St. Onuphrius church in Antakya,and the Church of Saint Gregory of Dikra Honentz in Ani. The feast day of the Saint is stil celebrated on the twelfth of June. An excavated burial place exists beneath the floorboards of this church as well.

Continuing uphill after leaving the Yılanlı Kilise, a small, cruciform, nameless church whose iconostasis is stil standing can also be seen. A short distace further on, you will encounter one of the refectories used by the monks.This dining hall contains a table carved from the rock that can accomodate thirty persons, a seat at the head fort he abbot, an in-ground cavity for pressing grapes to make wine, and numerous holes and shelves used for various purposes on the walls. The second storey of the structure contains a simple chapel and small rooms.

Cappadocia Serpent Church