Alahan Monastery: jaw-dropping, spectacular must-see!

Perched high above the Göksu Valley, in the shadow of the Kestel Mountain, you’ll find Alahan Monastery, one of Turkey’s hidden gems. It is not a name you see on many people’s bucket lists, and that’s a shame! Because Alahan Monastery is easy to reach by car and it combines spectacular ruins with an equally dramatic view. If you find yourself near Silifke or Mersin, this is a name to remember! Check out why in this post.

No Roof Means Lots Of Light

No Roof Means Lots Of Light

Alahan Monastery: pilgrimage center for Christians

Alahan Monastery initially only consisted of a cave-church built in the 4th century. In the 5th century followed a Basilica, constructed in two stages during the reign of two different Emperors. The mid-5th century developments occurred under Emperor Leo I and continued in the last quarter of the same century under Emperor Zeno. Later, the monastery most likely became a pilgrimage site, followed by the building of rock-cut chambers used as accommodation quarters, the Eastern Church, and the Baptistery. You will also find a Forecourt, a Necropolis, a Lower Terrace, and a Bathhouse at Alahan Monastery.

The West Church At Alahan Seen From Its Apse

The West Church At Alahan Seen From Its Apse

West Church Apse And Living Quarters In The Background

West Church Apse And Living Quarters In The Background

The complex is located at an altitude of about 1.300m above sea level and was a communal living space for monks until they abandoned it in the 7th century. The complex, and in particular the East Church, is significant in the evolution of early Byzantine architecture, and also an excellent example of expert local stonemasonry. Almost every detail that is currently identified about the history of the Alahan Monastery can be attributed to Michael Gough‘s excavations carried out between 1961 and 1973.

For another monastery with great views in a different area, check out Yediler Monastery, near Lake Bafa

Absorbing All These Details Can Easily Take A While

Absorbing All These Details Can Easily Take A While

Alahan Monastery: the buildings

It doesn’t take long to do a tour of Alahan Monastery’s buildings, but once you start noticing all the details, you find yourself circling around once more.

Cave Church

As mentioned before, this was the first Church at Alahan Monastery. It was already in use during the 4th century. It is also the first structure that you run into as you visit the site. The Cave Church is located at the western tip in a natural cave of about 10m high, spread over three floors.

Overview Of The Cave Church

Overview Of The Cave Church

West Church

The West Church or the Church of the Evangelists, as it is also called, is the least well-preserved Church at Alahan Monastery. This Basilica, however, features an elaborately decorated doorway depicting a six-winged Angel Gabriel, figures of saints, lions, eagles & oxen, but also Bible writers, grapes & vines, and fish motifs. It is divided into three naves with a row of columns with Corinthian capitals.

Entering The West Church At Alahan Monastery

Entering The West Church At Alahan Monastery

Look At The Spectacular Position Of The West Church

Look At The Spectacular Position Of The West Church

Colonnaded Gallery

A Colonnaded Gallery was connecting the West and the East Church, also providing access en-route to the Baptistry, the living quarters, and tombs. The walkway used to be covered, but nowadays, only a few of the column bases remain. It does offer spectacular views!

This Must Have Been A Glorious Colonnaded Gallery!

This Must Have Been A Glorious Colonnaded Gallery!

Inscription At Alahan's Necropolis

Inscription At Alahan’s Necropolis

Baptistery

The twin-apsed Baptistery has two aisles and a cruciform-shaped baptismal pool. There is evidence to suggest that the Baptistry was built at a later stage when the population at Alahan grew and that the font Cave Church was initially used for baptisms.

The Baptistry And Its Apse

The Baptistry And Its Apse

The Baptistry

The Baptistry

East Church

You reach the East Church at the end of the Colonnaded Gallery. It may not look that way because this Church is better-preserved, but the 23 x 15m East Church is significantly smaller than the West Church, which was 36 x 16m. Its basilica design features a tower superimposed over the eastern part of the nave. Some sources mention that the roof has collapsed, which is the case. Still, Gough’s research indicates that the roof was apparently not made of stone, but most probably of light timber tiles, since practically no stones were found among the rubble during the excavations.

East Church At Alahan, End Of The Road

East Church At Alahan, End Of The Road

The decorations of the east Church are far more modest than those of the West Church, except for the ornaments near the entrance. The theory behind this is that one could only reach this Church from inside the complex.

Detail Of The East Church Decoration

Detail Of The East Church Decoration

The Amzingly Well Preserved East Church

The Amzingly Well Preserved East Church

Final thoughts on visiting Alahan Monastery

We mentioned it in our introduction, Alahan is not on many bucket lists, and that’s a shame, as it is a truly magnificent site to visit. The views alone are worth it, add to this the sophisticated architecture of this complex, and you’re in for a treat. You’ll find Alahan Monastery at about 1h30h inland from Silifke, just a short drive off the main D715 road to Konya, almost right in the middle between Mersin and Alanya.

The Entire West Church In One Image

The Entire West Church In One Image

As it is often the case with monasteries, this is a place where nature, history, and architecture meet, and the sound of silence reminds you again of the beauty of life. It doesn’t take a genius to understand why the monks picked this place, though it must have been a challenge to finalize the construction of the monastery, due to its challenging position.

The Elaborately Decorated Doorframe Of The Western Church At Alahan Monastery

The Elaborately Decorated Doorframe Of The Western Church At Alahan Monastery

✔️ Have you been to Alahan Monastery? Then please head over to our Turkey Trip Planner to leave a review. Alternatively, if you plan on visiting, you can add the site to your bucket list.
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Source: BIAA, Alahan Monastery Excavations

You’ll need to pay a small entrance fee to enter the site. Please note that there are no facilities on-site, so carry plenty of water and bring something to protect you from the sun.

The reviews on TripAdvisor offer a good balance if you want to check what other travelers think of this place. If you still have questions, send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Pop over to the other side of the road to visit Alaoda Church. Admittedly it is not as spectacular as Alahan, but it would be a shame to miss out on it once you’re there.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Alahan Monastery is easy to reach by car, as it lies right along the main road connecting Silifke to Konya.

If you’re relying on public transportation, you’ll have one hell of a climb to do if you want to visit here! Our advice would be to take a taxi.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

You’ll need to pay a small entrance fee to enter the site. Please note that there are no facilities on-site, so carry plenty of water and bring something to protect you from the sun.

The reviews on TripAdvisor offer a good balance if you want to check what other travelers think of this place. If you still have questions, send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Pop over to the other side of the road to visit Alaoda Church. Admittedly it is not as spectacular as Alahan, but it would be a shame to miss out on it once you’re there.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Alahan Monastery is easy to reach by car, as it lies right along the main road connecting Silifke to Konya.

If you’re relying on public transportation, you’ll have one hell of a climb to do if you want to visit here! Our advice would be to take a taxi.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Alahan Monastery: Jaw Dropping, Spectacular Must See!
Alahan Monastery: Jaw Dropping, Spectacular Must See!
Alahan Monastery: Jaw Dropping, Spectacular Must See!
Alahan Monastery: Jaw Dropping, Spectacular Must See!
Alahan Monastery: Jaw Dropping, Spectacular Must See!

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

Work with us

Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

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Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

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Alahan Monastery: jaw-dropping, spectacular must-see!