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Karanlik Church

Destinations in Cappadocia

Part of the Göreme open-air museum, the church is called the “dark” as it is, indeed, very dark within. The barrel-vaulted nartex is reached via a narrow winding staircase. From there one enters the rectangular nave. It is typical cross-vaulted cruciform-planned church with dome on four pillars. A fresco of the iconostasis is damaged. The church has one small window. The lack of light has preserved the vitality of the frescoes. Both the plan and decorations of this church are strongly reminiscent of the Elmali and Carikli churches. The paintings are characterised by figures with meaningful facial expressions and figural movement, while an attempt has plainly been made to animate the painting through the detailed use of architectural and decorative elements. The extensive use of blue, a relatively rare pigment,is notable.

There is no chronological order to the frescos, with the most important scenes from the Christ cycle being illustrated without regard for their sequence. The scenes illustrated are mainly related to the to the feast of the Liturgy. The scenes shown in greatest detail are the Annunciation, the Journey to Bethlehelm, the Nativity, Baptism of Christ, the Transfiguration, the Raising of Lazarus, the Entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the Betrayal, the Crucification, the Women at the Tomb, Christ on Mt. Olives and the Ascention.

The two biblical scenes of the Hospitality of Abraham and the Three Hebrews are also included among the frescos.

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