ASARCIK

The ruins of East Asarcık are at 1000m altitude, close to the road, 1.5km west of Karabel. Polygonal walls of an acropolis surround the remains of many buildings with small courtyards and narrow streets; a gate built of massive blocks opens south. On the hilltop is a three-aisled basilica church with semi-circular apse. The column capitals are carved with acanthus leaves and Maltese crosses; between them were beautifully-carved ciboria with grape-vines and acanthus. The church doorframe is decorated with deeply-drilled acanthus and circular motifs. Most of the site dates from the Roman period; the church itself is probably of the late 5thC. In the 9thC, a small chapel was built within the ruins of the church.

Between this acropolis and the road is West Asarcık, a second complex containing a small Hellenistic tower with an adjoining Roman building and settlement with oil-press. In the 6thC, a huge church was built east of the tower with a courtyard in between. Many Byzantine buildings enclose and adjoin the church courtyard; some could be cells for monks. The whole was surrounded by a roughly rectangular wall with entrance door and stepped corridor leading to the church courtyard.

The church is built of large blocks of white limestone and the exterior is square; the interior has three aisles and triconchos apses. The apses stand to above the height of the windows and are decorated with a carved frieze of acanthus with inset crosses and other decorative bands of carving. Relief crosses (possibly once inlaid) are positioned between the twin windows. The aisles were divided by columns topped by capitals decorated with windblown acanthus and Maltese crosses in medallions; a beautifully-carved ciborium linked them. Doorframes were wonderfully decorated with deeply-carved lintels and a frame of swastikas.

On the north side is a baptistery, partly cut out of solid rock. The font, also cut from a solid block, has an inscription including the name Nicholas. To the south a chapel was added to accommodate three sarcophagi; one bears the words ?????? / light and life. It is almost complete and the decoration here is of the finest – above a deep frieze incorporating grapes and a bird, were eight consoles decorated with acanthus and Maltese cross medallions – presumably they supported polycandron. A cross-shaped window was inset into the dome.
A substantial 9thC church was built inside the ruins of the church. At the same time, a second funerary chapel was added on the south side.