Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Gumusler Monastery, Cappadocia

The Gumusler Monastery is located in Gumusler Town, in Cappadocia. Despite not knowing the precise foundation of the monastery, it is supposed to have been built between 8th and 12th centuries AD. The monastery is carved out of a large rock, being one of the best preserved and largest of its kind in the Cappadocian region.

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 northern aisle of the cross there is a niche with two tombs.

It is believed that at least 3 icon painters 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 a Deisis with the Theotokos and the Disciples. The lowest series shows a number of the Fathers of the Church, including Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzus.

In the north aisle of the cross are representations 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 Jesus Christ, and on each side of them the archangels Gabriel and Michael, belonging to the hand of a third artist. On the walls of a room above the narthex is an example of something not seen anywhere else in Cappadocia, i.e. hunting scenes. There is an interesting composition of a variety of animals. The special style and iconography of the paintings on the walls of the monastery is the same as that, which can be seen in many other churches in the region. It is believed that the icons in the Church are from the 12th and 13th centuries AD. 

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