Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

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Cave Church ot St. Peter

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Cave Church ot St. Peter

About the site


Corridor: Via Anatolia
Country: Turkey, Antakya, Hatai
Type: Christian religious centre
Epoch: Middle Ages
Theme:
World Heritage:
Middle AgesChristian religious centre

The Cave Church of St. Peter (also the Grotto of St. Peter; Turkish Sen Piyer Kilisesi) is an ancient cave church with a stone facade, located just outside Antioch (modern Antakya), Turkey.
This cave is widely believed to have been dug by the Apostle Peter himself as a place for the early Christian community of Antioch to meet, and thus to be the very first Christian church.
Whether or not this is so, St. Peter (and St. Paul) did preach in Antioch around 50 AD and a church had been established in Antioch by as early as 40 AD. Antioch became a major center for planning and organizing the apostles' missionary efforts, and it was the base for Paul's earliest missionary journeys. Famously, it was the inhabitants of Antioch that first called Jesus' followers "Christians" (Acts 11:26).
The attractive stone facade of the church was built by Crusaders, who identified the grotto during their rule of Antioch from 1098 to 1268.
The interior of the grotto church is austere and simple. The only permanent furnishings are a small altar, a single statue, and a stone throne. On the walls are the barely discernible remains of frescoes, and on the floor can be seen some traces of mosaics. In the back of the church is a tunnel that leads into the mountain interior, popularly believed to be a means of escape in times of persecution.
 

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