yakup1Other names: Kafro Elayto (Suryani)

East of Gercüş off the new highway to Dargecit stands the tiny village of Arıca, ancestral home apparently of current Minister of Finance, Mehmet Şimşek. 

The only reason for coming here would be to visit the old Suryani church of Mor Yakup which stands, looking from the outside more like a castle than a church, at the top of the village. The owners of the house besite keep the keys. 

Inside the church consists of a rough-hewn nave with barrel vault and three small windows very high up on the western wall. The only decoration is at the east end where a decorated curtain conceals the altar in a colourful frame. In front of it stands a rough stone lectern and that's it for contents. yakup2

Stairs lead up to a few rooms where presumably the priest once lived. Then they continue up onto the flat roof which offers fine views over the village and out to the barren hills. There is no belltower of any kind suggesting that this was probably one of the poor Suryani communities. 

Most of the village houses ares still made of stone, sometimes with simple decorations on the facades.

There are also remains of the rock-cut monastery of Mor Barsawno to the northwest of the village although I didn't see it. According to Hans Hollerweger, it was home to hermit-scribes from the 15th century. The last hermit apparently left in 1915.

A little further north are the built remains of Mor Aho monastery about which very little is known.


The nearest accommodation is in Midyat, Hasankeyf or Batman.

Transport info

There are no buses to the village but if you ask at the bus offices in Gercüş an informal "taxi" can probably be arranged. 


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