Cross Church (Soğanlı)

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

Cross Church (Turkish, Haç Kilise) is an architecturally unique cave church in Soğanlı Valley. Corner pillars, a full rock iconostasis, a strange pendentives give unique character to this cave church.

Cross Church (Soganli), entrance

Cross church is located ten meters uphill from Saklı Kilise. The church was carved into the hillside (not a fairy chimney). Erosion has shaved off the top portions, and so now a cluster of holes remain. This church is technically Haç Kilise 2; the nearly identical Haç Kilise 1 is above Karabaş.


The nave is a spacious (4 x 4 m) cross-in-square floorplan. The interior has a shallow bench all around and a simple, square cornice (molding).


Cross Church (Soganli), interior

The central dome is short and flat. Perhaps the builders were concerned about not breaking through the surface above. The squat dome is off-center, leaning slightly towards the apse. The pendentives (transitions from wall to dome) are flat with obvious triangular recesses. Instead of transitioning to the dome as they ought, the four pendentives merely “support” the flat ceiling, from which the dome is punched.


The arched transepts were painted with red lines to imitate a rock-built vault. The most unique feature of Cross Church is the eight pillars (two per transept) in each corner. The three-quarter pillars are attached to the corner and have decorated bases. The pillars do not carry any load, but are purely ornamental.


The front apse has a rock-iconostasis extending to the roof. This separating wall has an arched doorway and four windows. The upper apse has collapsed and dirt covers the sanctuary. The only apse furniture is an attached apse on the left side.

Cross Church (Soganli), iconostatis

The narthex (entry room) has collapsed. The thin hall contained burial chambers on both sides. The room on the left appears more prominent, perhaps for the burial of a patron or monk. Dirt covers the floor and any graves, so evidence is limited.

The church has no painting or inscription, so it is hard to date. However, its location beyond the cluster of Domed Churches suggests an 11th-century date.

© 2019 Jason Borges

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