ALACAHİSAR CHURCH

A large church called Alacahisar is situated on Çam Dağı / Pine Hill at 1200m altitude, about 4km southwest of Karabel village. It can be reached both by dirt road and via an ancient path running Karabel – Bağcaarası – Çam Dağı.

The east part is cut entirely from solid rock; the triconch apses are carved into the rock and rise to about 8m above ground level. Large crosses are engraved inside the half-domes of the three apses; they may have been inlaid with silver or maybe mosaic. The body of the church, 25m in length, was built of medium-size blocks but has fallen – just a magnificent doorframe with acanthus and running bead decoration remains. On the north side, a chapel or baptistery with apse was also cut from the rock; its floor is higher than that of the main church. Above the church is a stone arch typical of Orthodox churches – it must have supported a bell.

The hills around the church are well wooded with pines over limestone but, in spite of good building materials, there is no evidence of monastery buildings, little surface pottery and no terraces. In the level fields to the north are outcrops with signs of Byzantine building, resembling small fortifications.