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Ak Kilise

Ak Kilise (White Church) was an ancient masonry church in the middle of Soğanlı Village. The sixth-century church was dissembled in the early 1900s.

Ak Kilise (Soğanlı), apse (Jerphanion c. 1910)

Ak Kilise sits just above the confluence of creeks in the center of Soğanlı village, 25 meters east of Emek Pansiyon through some private homes. Only one wall of the church remains.

Original Design

The original church was built in the 500s. The construction likely took place during the reign of Justinian the Great (527–65). This was a period of large-scale church expansion. Based on the church’s location near the village settlement, Ak Kilise was a community church used for regular worship.

In several ways, Ak Kilise parallels the masonry church recently discovered in Sobesos (30 km away). The church was rather large—10 by 5 meters. The remaining wall and older photos indicate that the church was expertly-constructed. The apse had five walls, a large arched window, and dentiled molding (which the nearby Domed Churches imitated some 500 years later).

Several graves are carved near the apse. Because graves were typically inside the church or near the west entrance, their presence on the east side (behind the apse) suggests that many people were buried around the church.

Ak Kilise (Soğanlı), church and cliffside (c. 1860)

The community had a large enough population and sufficient funds to construct a church. This indicates a sizable Christian presence in ancient Soandos by the 500s.

Modern History

Today, only the north wall of the church remains. The rounded foundation for the apse is also visible.

Ak Kilise (Soğanlı), north wall

Ak Kilise was destroyed during (or right after) World War I. Two separate villagers told me that the stones were used to construct the hamam (Turkish bath) in Yeşilhısar (the nearby county seat).

The Turkish house built upon Ak Kilise dates to 1941 (based on the external sign above the door). Several nearby buildings re-used the original white stones, especially for corners.


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