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Yarımburgaz Cave Monastery

Yarımburgaz Cave is a natural limestone cave around 600 meters long in the valley of Sazlıdere River north of Lake Küçükçekmece. At its entrance, it has upper chamber measuring around 50 meters which links to a lower chamber that measures around 600 meters. It is possible that it was located near the village of Schiza, which might be identified with modern district Altınşehir.

The floor of the upper chamber destroyed by treasure hunters and illicit diggings, but the lower chamber had extensive finds dating back to Lower Paleolithic era. Evidence suggests alternating habitations by bears, hominids and other carnivores in the Paleolithic era, with bears hibernating in the winter and hominids settling in the cave seasonally.

The cave was the site of a monastery until the Late Byzantine era, with the upper chamber was functioned as a chapel. Traces of a small basilica are outside the entrance of the upper chamber, while there is an apse carved at the entrance of the upper chamber. In addition, there are traces of a division wall on the ceiling, a column with carved capital, three vaults on the ceiling, and nine niches on the east wall. Frescoes were destroyed during the filming movies. Near the entrance is the largest apse with a synthronon. While there is little evidence of the lower chamber being used during the Byzantine era, there are stairs (built near a rubble wall) that carved between the upper and lower chamber. In addition, there are chambers with graves above the upper chamber. The inner area of the upper chamber was used as a cemetery for some time as well. Finds in the area include ceramics dating to various periods of the Byzantine era and even capital fragments roughly dating to Justinianic era.

Plan from Stiner, Arsebuk & Howell.png

Plan from Stiner, Arsebuk & Howell


Tabula Imperii Byzantini 12: Ostthrakien by Andreas Kulzer

“Doğu Trakya'da epigrafi tarihi coğrafya araştırmaları 2001” (Araştırma Sonuçları Toplantısı) by MH Sayar

“Yarımburgaz 1988” (Kazı Sonuçları Toplantısı) by Arsebük, Howell, & Özbaşaran

“Yarımburgaz Mağarası 1986” (Arkeoloji ve Sanat) by M. Ozdoğan & A. Koyunlu

“Cave Bears and Paleolithic Artifacts in Yarimburgaz Cave, Turkey: Dissecting a Palimpsest” by Stiner, Arsebuk & Howell


Byzantine Thrace Album (Byzantine Legacy Flickr)

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