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Gümüsler Monastery at Cappadocia

Fresco at Hidden Cappadocia Monastery

The monastery is located in Gümüşler town, an important historical source with relation to the middle ages. Despite not knowing the precise foundation of the Gümüşler Monastery, it is supposed to have been built between 8th and 12th centuries. The monastery is carved out of a large rock church and is one of the best preserved and largest of its kind in the Cappadocia region.

Hidden monastery in Cappadocia, Gümüsler

There are quite a few monasteries hewn out of the rock in Cappadocia. Some scholars split these into two types: Those with dining halls and those with open courtyards. The Gümüşler Monastery is part of the second group, with an open courtyard.

The most important part of the monastery complex is the church to its north. The church comprises of four free standing closed aisles based on a Greek cross plan. In the northen aisle of the cross there is a niche with two tombs. To the west there are two entrances covered with a cradle vault. The function of many of the other spaces in the monastery is not known. Graves and storerooms are situated in the central courtyard. On the left side of the courtyard at the entrance is an underground city which has communication and ventilation systems extending to the soil surface.

It is assumed at least three different masters worked on the paintings found on the walls of the church. In the main apse there are three bands of paintings. The highest shows Christ Enthroned, with two angels to his right, the symbols of the Gospel writers and the moment of Desis with Mary and the disciples.

Mother Mary and baby Jesus in Gümüsler Monastery, Cappadocia

The lowest series shows fathers of the church, Basil the Great of Kayseri, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus known as the Cappadocian Fathers.

Cappadocian Fathers

In the north aisle of the cross are represations of the Annunciation, the Nativity and the Presentation at the temple with the figures of John the Baptist and St. Stephen which must have been painted by the hand of a second artist. On the inside of the narthex to the south of the entrance door are representations of Mary and baby Jesus and on each side of them the archangels Gabriel and Michael which belong to the hand of a third artist.

Archangel fresco in hidden church Gümüsler in Cappadocia

On the walls of a room above the narthex is an example of something not seen anywhere else in Cappadocia: hunting scenes. There is an interesting composition of variety of animals. The special style and iconography of the paintings on the walls of the Gümüşler Monastery is the same as that can be seen in many churches in Cappadocia. It is possible to date the paintings in the church to the 12th and 13th century A.D. by comparing and evaluating them by these traits.

See fresco of Mary and Jesus smiling in Gümüsler Monastery Church.

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