Ashab-ı Kehf Mağarası

Eshab-ı Kehf Cave - Seven Sleepers' Cave


Useful Information

Location: 14km from Tarsus, 40km from Mersin. (36.957222, 34.796667)
Open: All year Mon 13-18, Tue 11-16, Wed 14-16, Fri 10-17, Sat 11-18, Sun 8-19.
[2020]
Fee: free.
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaCave Tomb
Light: electric
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Ashab-ı Kehf Mağarası, Dedeler, 33400 Tarsus/Mersin
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

1873 mosque next to the cave built.
2015 on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.

Description

Ashab-ı Kehf Mağarası (Seven Sleepers' Cave) is named after the Persian اصحاب کهف (Ashāb-i Kahf, people of the cave) which is the Islamic term for the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. Islamic scholars agree that the cave is located in Tarsus, at least that's what the locals tell you. The small cave is located at the foot of a hill. To enter the cave, it is necessary to descend a staircase with 20 steps. The cave has several openings in the ceiling, but it is also equipped with electric light.

Most people simply walk down the staircase to the main chamber of the small cave. But there is a side passage with quite rough floor, if you are surefooted enough you may take a little detour. The cave is frequented by an enormous amount of visitors, a result is that the limestone in the cave is polished by the touch of many hands and feet. It looks almost like marble.

The remains of a Byzantine era church were found carved into the rock. The cave was once lined with bricks which created the impression of a building. In the side walls of the church are niches with arched vaults and in the northern wall is an apse. Iinscriptions about the Seven Sleepers were found on the walls.

Close to the cave a mosque was erected for the pilgrims. It was commissioned by the Ottoman sultan Abdülaziz, who reigned 1861 to 1876. It was erected in 1873, the tall minaret with three şerefes (balconies) was added later.