GÜNAĞI

On the floor of a valley, 400m below the modern road from Belören and 3km east of Alakilise is the late Roman or early Byzantine settlement called Karacaören. It includes foundations of many houses, more than 10 cisterns and is surrounded by terraces. A workshop and a cylindrical millstone were found nearby during the construction of the road.

Overlooking the sea at Günağı, a shepherd’s home 800m southwest of Karacaören, an early Byzantine three–naved church was recently discovered. Just north of a threshing floor are a pair of columns with large Latin relief crosses and two large capitals decorated with whirling acanthus leaves, marking the west entrance to the church courtyard. Both are fallen and in poor condition.

The three semicircular apses stand to the height of a cornice and the left one has faint traces of a fresco of seven saints with halos; painted text reading ‘Nicholas’ prayer …’ is partly visible. A beautifully-decorated capital and several column drums formed part of the nave.

The most remarkable feature of this church is the quality and extent of the drilled and carved decoration. All around are capitals, friezes, door frames and other carved stones. The decoration combines classic Roman motifs with bands of acanthus and bunches of grapes, maltese crosses and swirls of acanthus leaves. A small rectangular carving in very low relief seems to represent a later period and fragments of pierced work could be part of an altar screen.