Alahan Monastery is a complex of fifth century buildings located in the mountains of Isauria in southern Asia Minor (Mersin province in modern day Turkey). Located at an altitude of 4,000 ft, it stands 3,000 ft over the Calycadnus valley. The complex played a significant role in the development of early Byzantine architecture, and practically everything known about it can be attributed to the excavations of Michael Gough.
The first Westerner to write about Alahan was Leon de Laborde who visited this spot in 1826. To reach the monastery, you have to turn right on the Mut – Karaman (Mersin/ Turkey) road and climb up two kilometers to the hilltop. Here you have to park your car and continue on foot to make a tour of the monastery.
It is rewarding to watch below at the scenery from the hilltop. You see the valley of Göksu River from an altitude of 1000 to 1200 meters.
The church, to the east of the monastery is in very good condition, only the roof is missing. You cannot but think that ıf there were a roof, the church would be ready for worship.
There is a blue-colored natural rock serving as the northern wall of chapel. You should not be content by only visiting the interior of the church. Climb a little further up and watch the building from outside to perceive its magnificence. The eastern wall looks like as if it’s newly constructed from outside.
Western Church (Evangelical Basilica), the monastery, the eastern church and monk’s cells carved into the rocks constitute the cluster of buildings to be seen here. The western church is in a ruined condition. In both churches the nave and the aisles are separated by rows of Corinthian columns. The craftsmanship displayed by the columns, column capitals, figures of human beings, animals and plants on the portals are very attractive.
The figures of St.Paul and St. Pierre, angels Gabriel and Michael carrying a wreath and other ornamentations depicting roaring lions, eagles, fish and bunches of grapes and vine leaves have all been hewn into stone in embroidery like esthetic skill. I must say that it is a historic monument worth seeing.
World Heritage Status: This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on February 25, 2000 in the Cultural category.