Approach to Alahan Monastery.

A Visit to Alahan, The Monastery in the Sky

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In a very small valley, not far from Mut, is a windy mountain road. Next to the road is the river where Barbarosa drowned during the 3rd Crusade. On one of the peaks above the valley lies the Alahan Monastery which was built in the the late fifth and early sixth centuries.

Keystone arches are still standing.
Keystone arches are still standing.

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Originally the site was built into caves, and you can still see where people would have lived. There are steps and windows built cut into the rocks. There is also a baptismal that is in the shape of a cross which is in superb condition.

Other than the views, one of the best things about this site is the preservation of carvings. Everywhere you look you can see birds, fish, and crosses, lots of crosses. Alahan is definitely worth a stop.

Caves surrounding Alahan monastery.
Caves surrounding Alahan monastery.

It’s on the top of the list of tentative UNESCO World Heritage sites in Turkey, and I do hope it makes it at some point. The last time we visited they were doing some surveying, so maybe soon…

As in many sites in Turkey, it cost a mere 3 Tl. to enter.  The best part of this is that even though there is a guard shack at the entrance, the ticket man comes running at you from the turn. 

3 Fishes represent Christianity.
3 Fishes represent Christianity.

I’m pretty sure he’s startled more than a few tourists, like my friends that were in the car ahead of us, since he has no uniform and is a bit scruffy.  He is the real deal, though, so give the poor guy his fee.  You better go soon though, if UNESCO does declare it an official site, the price will probably go up considerably!

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