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Surp Stepanos Church Overview
Türkçe

circa 1913 February 2002

As noted on the previous page, Surp Stepanos (St. Stephen) Church was one of at least 3 churches located within Eastern Efkere, and seems to have served as the principle church for the village. It is listed in a manuscript from 1683, although the building that is currently standing dates only from 1871. The reason that the church was rebuilt is uncertain. There was a major earthquake in the area in 1835, which did cause significant damage to buildings throughout greater Kayseri, and was known to have damaged the church in the nearby village of Darsiyak. Whether or not that earthquake caused structural damage to Surp Stepanos, which required that it be rebuilt, is a matter of speculation.

It is also unknown with certainty whether the current building was built on the same site as the previous church with the same name, although this would likely be the case. The cornerstone, located at the northwest corner of the building, does have a fairly lengthy inscription, and appears to be older than the surrounding stone. Unfortunately, the inscription has become quite worn over the years, and is now difficult to interpret. It is conceivable that this is from the previous church of the same name, although further investigation is needed.

Surp Stepanos is a cross-shaped church that is set on a hill overlooking the river that runs through the center of the village. It is laid out in an east-west orientation. The land drops off sharply approximately forty feet in front of the church, resulting in a clear view of the building from Western Efkere.

Smooth cut stone measuring approximately 30 x 60 cm was used in construction. These stones are interconnected with poured metal bracings, which are not visible from the outside or inside of the building.

Fugen Ilter carried out some architectural studies of the church, and did provide some general external dimensions for the church in 1982 ["Darsiyak ve Evkere--Kayseri'de XIX, Yuzyildan Iki Kilise", Anatolia-Anadolu (Festschrift Akurgal) XXII, Ankara, 1982]. The church measures 25.5 m in length, and is 15.3 m in width. The small northern and southern wings extend out 1.65 m. The eastern (rear) wing measures 3.35m and the western (front) wing is 7.45 m. The gabled roof has an opening 11.9 m in diameter, where the dome once rested.

Fortunately, more detailed studies of this church are being carried out by Seyda Güngör Açikgöz, which will add greatly to our knowledge of this building. The architectural plans for Surp Stepanos Church that were completed recently by Açikgöz are located on the right, and are the most detailed plans for the building that exist.

The interior of the building is remarkable in several respects. As Açikgöz's architectural plan shows, the apse is laid out in a semi-circle. It is covered with a hemi-dome, which is adorned with a beautiful multi-cross pattern. This can be seen clearly in the photograph of Surp Stepanos to the left, which dates from approximately 1913.

The entrance hall of the church, conversely, is laid out rectilinearly, and is covered with a vaulted ceiling.

Unfortunately, the dome is no longer present, and has been missing since at least 1919.

A small building, which is currently used as a home, is attached to the south side of the church. The purpose of this building is unclear. Boys and girls schools were located adjacent to the church prior to the First World War, but in an interview that I conducted with a former resident of the village, these were thought to be on the northern side of the building.

The bell tower, once just south of the church, is no longer present.

There are no longer any buildings adjacent to the church on its northern side, although some foundations remain.

Questions or Comments? Email Dr. Jonathan Varjabedian.