Cave of Apostle Paul in Ephesus
The cave located on Bülbül Mountain, which is one of the mountains that surrounds Ephesus Ancient City, and has been used for cult named Cave of Paulos.
Rectangular entrance room covered by vault, probably had been built in Eastern Roman period.
An additional is placed south of the cave with 15m length, average 2m width and 2,3m height.
This addition is named as Presbyterium.
In front of this, there was a barrier and it’s supposed that there is an altar in the middle of the front wall. Vertige of the altar still can be seen.
Inside of the cave four layers of frescoes are stacked and these frescoes are dated back since late 4th century till 12th-13th centuries.
Oldest fresco layer, is placed on the behind of the eastern wall and, a topic is represented from The Old Testament. A blue tondo with white star is representing the sky figuratively and prophet Elijah is ascending to the sky with his horse carriage in front of it. Elijah put his coat on the ground and his student Elijah has become the prophet instead of him by taking this coat.
Mountain in the heaven and four rivers irrigating the earth are representing under this scene.
The river names Euphrates, Tigris and Phison can be read today as well.
One more layer fresco has been painted in the left part of the entrance on the eastern wall in late 4th or 5th century.
The scene of The Prophet Abraham sacrificing his own son Isaac is depicted on this layer. The Prophet Abraham is holding up the knife on his right front and his son is seen on the altar under him. When The Prophet Abraham has looked his back, he saw the hand of the god. This hand is signing to stop during the sacrificing.
Frescos of the small niche on the western wall is embossed with flowers and palm tree leaves, but these have been harmed because of the addition which has been built soon.
More inside the cave, frescos which are placed on the same wall are representing the most important events of Saint Thekla.
There represented three human with Ancient Greek subtitle:
On the right, Saint Thekla, who stays a bit left, is standing on the window who and is listening Saint Paul standing outside.
St. Paul is telling from codex while his right hand is up and opened. St. Paul is seen with high forehead which is typical for iconography, sharp beard and brown hair.
Behind the Paulus on the right, Thekla’s mother is standing and her right hand is up for warning. Here representing designation of Thekla’s mission, the action that changes his whole life: In Ikonion, St. Paul is preaching about living with diet and chastity. Engaged Thekla’s going out is banned from home. Preach of Paul is being listened excitedly from the window of the next building. After that Thekla breaks engagement without listening his mother’s warning .
On north wall there are a few fresco layers in two niches. Front niche on the top layer represents the largest portrait of Jesus.
On a little bit older layer a few human with an altar in the center are seen.
On the rear niche at least on two layers, Mary sitting in throne, Jesus sitting in embrace and there are single standing humans on left and right sides of him.
From the youngest fresco layer, very little of them kept on the eastern wall of Presbyterium. Here is a representation of Saint Georgios painted in 12th-13th century. Only yellow Nimbus, armored shoulder, spear and shield are seen.
Continually topic changing cult tradition is proven with unusual series of fresco layers. Without knowing clearly the main function of the cave, probably it had to be used as chapel in early Eastern Roman period.
Average 300 graffitis calling Jesus and Paul, prove continuous usage of cave from late Ancient Period to beginning of 20th century.
The third and the biggest fresco is placed on Presbyterium wall. The day of reckoning scene Theophanie (a god welcoming) is represented. In the middle golden colored cross shaped Nimbus and Jesus are sitting on the rainbow.
On both sides of him white blue clothed two apostles represented from front, are commented as prophet or saint.
From both sides turned to Jesus, a little more small drawn three human are coming. These might be the family who has dedicated frescos. The family comes in front of Jesus for wish.
On western and eastern wall on the same layer represented Nimbus with woman and man are seen. These are native saints and bishops. There is no more inscription that informed about who they are.