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Bezirhane Complex

Updated: Nov 23, 2019

Bezirhane is an elaborate rock-cut courtyard complex with church in Göreme. Like other courtyard complexes in Cappadocia, this space could have been an elite residence (with private chapel) or a monastic complex (with parish church).

Bezirhane Complex
Bezirhane Complex (Goreme), main hall

The church is located above Valley Park Hotel No. 34, at the dead-end of Ayvaz Efendi Sokak, here on Google Maps. The courtyard complex is open to enter, but the church (now part of a private residence) is not accessible.

The Complex

The Bezirhane complex has elaborate and precise rock carving throughout. Based on the consistent style of all the rooms at Bezirhane, one team/person likely completed the entire complex. The interior spaces are well-preserved.

Bezirhane Complex (Goreme), facade

The complex follows an inverted-T shape. The main spaces are the transverse portico (covered aisle) and the central hall. The portico (12m long) had a ribbed, barrel-vaulted ceiling. The façade (now destroyed by erosion) was an arcade with broad pillars and elegant arches. The rear wall had three arched niches with small windows for lighting. The middle bay has a large square doorway into the main hall. At the left (north) end of the portico are two small rooms on top of each other. At the other (east) end of the portico, a masonry wall blocks entrance to the church narthex.

The main hall follows a basilica floor plan The large, barrel-vaulted central aisle is flanked by side aisles with flat ceilings. Three plain, stout pillars support the four-arched arcades. The rear pillars on each side have been destroyed, leaving the rock-cut arches suspended in the air. This highlights the superfluous nature of load-bearing elements in cave architecture. The room has no apse or decorative feature except for a simple low cornice along the outer wall.

The Church

The church sits on the right (east) end of the portico, through a small cruciform narthex. The church has been inaccessible since 1980 and is now likely destroyed. The current owners of the property are unaware of any church. The church space likely became part of the cave-house in the mid-1900s, with modern rooms built in front of the church.

The following information about the church comes from French scholar Jerphanion, via Rodley and Ousterhout. The cross-in-square church (5m by 5m) dates to around 1000AD. The painting program imitates Column Church (Direkli Kilise, in Belisırma/Ihlara), whose inscription is dated 976-1025AD.

Bezirhane church has tall barrel-vaulted transepts and domed corner bays. The central dome rises six meters high. The three apses had attached altars.

Red lines imitating masonry patterns decorate the architectural features. The pillars contain multi-colored panel paintings of popular saints (George, Daniel, Kosmas, Basil, Nichols, and the angel Michael). An inscription at the entrance reads, “In the name of God this passage was complete by the mason Niketas, estate/village of St. Theodore.” Here, “Theodore” may refer to the church’s patron saint or to the village from which the mason Niketas came.

Modern History

In modern times, the large hall has served many purposes. The Turkish name Bezirhane (“linseed oil press”) refers to its usage in the early 1900s and accounts for the tar-like coating inside. By 1980 the room had become a pigeon house, while today it functions as storage for farm equipment.


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