Incegiz Monastery Caves

The rock-hewn monastery caves of the village of İnceğiz are located along the Karasu Stream in Eastern Thrace. The monastery, apparently dedicated to St. Nicholas, was near a Byzantine village that was conquered by Murat I in 1373. It seems that the monastery caves were used from the 4th century until the late 12th century, though recent evidence indicates the area itself was inhabited much earlier.

Two rock-hewn caves were carved from limestone on the side of a valley along the Karasu Stream. The first cave has four stories, with the first story consisting of three rooms part of which might have served as a refectory. In the second story, which was originally accessible by stairs that are now lost, is a church with a series of apses. There are two apses to the south of the main apse (which has a synthronon) and three apses to the north. All of these apses are oriented towards the east. In front of the northernmost apse is a grave carved into the rock. The southernmost apse has a basin which could have served as a baptismal font. There is also a fragmentary cross carved into the ceiling above the main apse. To the south of the chapel is a long corridor terminating in another room. Around the entrance to the corridor is another apse as well as a steep staircase providing access to the third story. The total length of this floor, including the corridor and room, is around 28 meters. The stairs lead two corridors on the third floor. The one of the right perhaps served as a depot, which the one of the right leads to a large area with two chambers. There is also another corridor leading to a smaller room behind the entrance. The upper floor was originally accessible by stairs that no long exist. The upper floor consisted of a chapel and a room perhaps reserved for the abbot of the monastery. There is a second rock-hewn cave around 1.5 kilometers to the south of the first cave. It is in much poorer condition and harder to access. It seems that this monastery cave also had four floors. A third cave is around 250 meters to the south of the second cave. In addition, a cistern was also recently discovered on the hilltop above the rock-hewn caves.

Plan by Dirimtekin 2.jpg

Plan of Second Floor of First Cave by Dirimtekin

Plan by Dirimtekin 3.jpg

Plan of Third Floor of First Cave by Dirimtekin



“İnceğiz Mıntıkasındaki Mağara-Manastır ve Kiliseler” by F. Dirimtekin

Tabula Imperii Byzantini 12: Ostthrakien by Andreas Kulzer

“Underground structures from Çatalca/Maltepe” by Aydıngün et al.


Byzantine Thrace Album (Byzantine Legacy Flickr)