Monday, 26 February 2024
Sille: The holy route to Jerusalem

Sille: The holy route to Jerusalem

Sille, which has been a residential area for five thousand years, has a strong bond with İstanbul, hundreds of kilometers away. Today, Sille is a historical residential area in the Selçuklu district of Konya. The founder of Aya Elenia church, which is in Sille, is the mother of Emperor Constantine who made İstanbul the capital of Rome. 


Sille attracts attention with its characteristic structures and carries the legacy that comes from thousands of years to today, even to the future. Sille was on the route of pilgrimage from İstanbul to Jerusalem and because of this location Sille always had great importance in the Roman period.


Konya has been a home for Çatalhöyük, which is the oldest residential area known in the world. Although Sille is not as old as Çatalhöyük, it has a history of five thousand years and with its rich history is also very assertive.


It is believed that the name of Sille, in the Selçuklu district of Konya, comes from “Sile” in Greek mythology. On the other hand, some believe that the name of Sille comes from the Greek language “silenos” which means running water.


In 1923, there was a population exchange between Turkey and Greece and the population structure completely changed in the area.


At the beginning of the 20th century, the population was nearly 18 thousand and the majority of it was Greeks. According to the population exchange they migrated to Greece and the Turkish people in Kozana and Florina migrated to Sille.


Bela Horvath, a Hungarian researcher, came to the region just before the First World War and wrote that there were about 60 churches in Sille then. Of course, some of these churches were formed as a result of the engraving of soft volcanic rocks in the region. However, there are also architecturally outstanding churches which managed to reach today in Sille. As Sille was on the route from the capital Constantinople to Jerusalem, which was holy for Christians, during the East Roman Empire period, it was an important rest point in the medieval age. Sille was a stop during the pilgrimage towards Jerusalem and developed religiously and became an important place for Christians. Elena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, who made İstanbul the capital of Rome, had a rest time in Sille during her pilgrimage from İstanbul to Jerusalem and this changed the destiny of the region. When she first came to the region, she was really impressed by the churches which had been made first Christians by carving the rocks. Aya Elenia Church named after her was constructed with Sille stones and has been renovated many times in more than sixteen centuries. Among the residents, carpet business, pottery, grapery and stonemasonry have been very popular occupations. The mosques, churches and civil architecture buildings are under guard as they are in a protected area. You can see stone houses in harmony in Sille. You should visit Aya Elenia Church, Devil’s Bridge and historical streets. You can have a one-day visit or you can stay in Sille stone house hostels.