İşhan Kilesisi

Church in Georgian Valleys

Despite a 30m tower-spire, this laboriously restored ancient church is somewhat hidden amongst trees in Upper İşhan (İşhan Köyü), a green oasis village on an otherwise barren mountainside. Founded in the 7th century by an exiled Armenian bishop it was rebuilt several times by Georgians, reaching more or less its final form in 1032 as Tao-Klarjeti's most important cathedral. The site is 7km off the D060 (Yusufeli–Gole) highway, turning north 13km east of the Artvin–Erzurum junction near (lower) İşhan.

The cruciform interior features a near-conical dome, arcades of tall horseshoe arches and elaborate fretwork around the windows.

Note that massive roadworks associated with the Yusufeli Dam project will eventually reroute the D60 considerably, taking it through a raised series of viaducts and tunnels, and this will likely affect the İşhan access route .

A dolmuş (minibus) leaves Yusufeli some time between 1pm and 3pm for Upper İşhan village, but it doesn't return until next morning so you'll really need your own wheels as there is – as yet – no pansiyon hereabouts.