İnceğiz Mağaraları

Kemal Sunal Mağaraları

Useful Information

Location: İnceğiz Village, 34540 Çatalca/İstanbul.
(41.182269, 28.403944)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Churche SubterraneaCave House
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Şengül Aydıngün (2015): İstanbul Çatalca/İnceğiz-Maltepe’deki Yer Altı Yapıları, Arkeoloji̇ Ve Sanat | 149: Mayis-Ağustos 2015. Türkçe - Turkish
Address: İnceğiz Mağaraları, İnceğiz Village, 34540 Çatalca/İstanbul.
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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4th century cave monastery built.
12th century cave monastery abandoned.
1950s first explored and scientifically published.
1992 to 1995 archaeological excavations by the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.


İnceğiz Mağaraları are named after the village İnceğiz, where they are located, another name is Kemal Sunal Mağaraları because it was a filming location in the movies Davaro (1981) and Salako (1974). Kemal Sunal was the main actor in both movies. It seems the caves, quite closed to Istanbul, were a popular film set for some time.

The caves are the remains of a cave monastery from the 4th century. The caves were cut into the cliff face in three or four levels. They were once connected by an external carved staircase which is now partly destroyed, by erosion and by earthquakes. But there are staircases to visit the first and second floor. The site is freely accessible, there is no entrance fee or open hours. As a result, there are, unfortunately, sometimes problems with dirt and rubbish in the caves.

Most caves are monk cells, they were used for living. But on the second floor is the church of the monastery, which is 7 m long and 4,5 m wide. A chapel is also on the fourth floor. During the excavations in the nineties, a residential area, a necropolis, an ancient road, waterways and an ancient water source were found. Also, there were several remains which were older than the 4th century. It seems the area was inhabited before the monastery was founded. There were even remains from the megalithic age. It became a monastery when Byzanz adopted the Christian religion in the 4th century.

The limestone cliffs along Karasu valley are of Eocene age and named Çatalca Formation. Some layers of the limestone were softer and were used to dig the caves.

The numerous remains of great age were made in the surroundings, there even was cistern which is older and was used by the village which was excavated. However, it seems someone mixed this up and so the educational sign on site say that the caves are 5000 years old. That's nonsense, the caves are a cave monastery from the 4th century.