taurus mountains monastery

This amazing view from 360cities.net is what’s left of a Byzantine monastery complex, nestled in the Taurus Mountains of what is now southern Turkey. I’m not sure precisely where this is, but my best guess is that it’s in the old Byzantine province of Cilicia. The stone walls you see in the foreground shield the entrance to a series of caves, probably where the monks lived. If you look closely in the background, near the center of this shot, you can see the remnants of the monastery itself blending into the rocks of the valley. That was probably where the church and other central buildings were.

There’s no telling how old this structure is. The history of Cilicia and environs is complicated; portions of the area kept going back and forth between Byzantine and Persian control, and later between the Byzantines and the Muslims. Just a shot in the dark, I would say this monastery was active no later than the 11th century. Byzantium lost a lot of its Anatolian provinces for good after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. Christians could have continued to occupy this site later than that, but I suspect it’s earlier.

This appears to be a very small monastery, much smaller than either the Monastery of Chenolakkos or St. Studuios, two prominent locations in my book Zombies of Byzantium. But certainly monks lived, worked and worshiped here, possibly for centuries. At one point in its history nearly half the population of the Byzantine Empire lived in monasteries or convents. It goes without saying that the Church was the #1 employer in the empire.

Link to 360cities spherical panorama for this image. Amazing stuff.