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Binbir Kilise (One Thousand Churches)

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Binbir Kilise (Eintausend Kirchen)

We left Karaman in direction to Kilbasan on an asphalted country road leading to Karapinar. At Dinek we turned to the left, just after passing the massive 2.288 metres high former volcano Karadag, again on a metalled but smaller road, in direction to Madensehir just 30 kilometres to the north of Karaman.

Now the road is steadily climbing and after 8 more kilometres to the east we arrived at the entry of Binbir Kilise. First to see is the ruin of a huge church with some arches and frescoes in relatively good condition next to some settlements of inhabitants of the village. Different to other places, the village is not a concentration of houses but more or less strewn all over the field. Same we can say about the churches and monasteries, so it is very difficult to count the number of ruins. Maybe there are not one thousand churches but at least we counted more then fifty.

Now almost abandoned, the village is the centre of Binbir Kilise which includes the remains of some well-maintained Byzantine churches and mausoleums. The complex enjoyed prosperity between the third and eighth century (even today´s inhabitants use the ruins for their sheep and goat or just for getting cheap construction materials) but in the 11th century it was destroyed by the Seljuks. About 50 church ruins remain and they have given some insight into the history of church architecture and the importance as a cultural centre for Byzantine Christians. The basilica´s are particularly interesting. They are constructed of ashlars and unlike most churches of Asia Minor do not have flat roofs, but are vaulted throughout because of the shortage of timber in Central Anatolia during that time already. To the northeast can be found more ruined churches and monasteries dating from the 9th and 10th century. On the Mahliç Tepesi the principal summit of the Kara Dag range at a height of 2,771 metres stand the remains of a ninth century Byzantine monastery and a Hittite sacred grotto with hieroglyphics, copies of which may be seen in the Museum at Karaman. Another of the Hittite's sacred sites lies on the western slopes of the Karadag on Kizildag.

For your visit at Binbir Kilise please prepare yourself with some drinks as there is no shop or service available. As well you should wear proper shoes due to stony passages and some ways to walk around.

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