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Photographs of early Christian churches in the Cappadocia region on view at Penn Museum

October 31, 2011

Ahmet Ertug, Meryem Ana Kilisesi (Church of the Mother of God) Turkey, Capadocia. First half of the 11th century AD

.. if you happen to be in Philadelphia …

The grandeur of Byzantine Christian art —preserved through the ages in early Christian churches in the Cappadocia region of Turkey —is the focus of a large-scale photography exhibition at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia.

Vaults of Heaven: Visions of Byzantium, an exhibition of 13 color photographs by renowned Turkish photographer Ahmet Ertug, is on view October 15, 2011 through February 12, 2012. Ertug’s photographs document the interiors of three churches— the Karankik Kilise (Dark Church), the New Church of Tokali (Buckle Church), and the Meryem Ana Kilisesi (Church of the Mother of God)—all more than 1,000 years old and all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The photographs include close-up views of elaborate wall paintings depicting classic Christian scenes from the life of Christ and images of saints. Also included are images revealing the dramatic interior architecture of these churches, places that have inspired, and continue to inspire generations of worshippers and admirers.

Photographer Ahmet Ertug, a 1974 graduate of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, practiced architecture in England, Iran, and Turkey. His commitment to photography started with a year-long Japan Foundation Fellowship to study architecture in Japan, where he traveled extensively and photographed the ancient temples, Zen gardens, and festivals. Later, home in Istanbul, he has photographed much of that city’s impressive Byzantine, Ottoman, and Roman remains, using a large-format camera that has enabled him to capture their full splendor. In the 1980s, he established his own publishing house, producing 25 specially designed books of his photographs that are now recognized for their innovation in the printing industry.

His photographs have been exhibited widely around the world; a permanent exhibition of his Hagia Sophia photographs is on display in the upper gallery of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

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