Lice Ashâb-ı Kehf Mağarası

Useful Information

Location: Lice, Diyarbakır Province. (38.439053, 40.499101)
Open: MAY daily.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: n/a
Guided tours:  
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
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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The Lice Ashâb-ı Kehf Mağarası (Seven Sleepers Cave of Lice) is of local fame. The area has heavy security issues and foreign tourism is almost non-existent. But the cave is locally very famous and a popular destination for pilgrimage and festivals. The water of the spring in the cave is said to have healing properties. During the visit the people drink the water or take some with them.

One of the reasons why this is the true Cave of Sleepers is that the area is called Fis in kurdish. The word Fis is thought to have derived from Efsus or Ephesus. The Roman Dakyanus (Decius) city is a few kilometers from here. According to Dr. Hasan Tanrıverdi the cave in Lice fits the features mentioned in the Quran in all details. Until 1977 the mountain where the cave is located was named as Eshab-ul Al-Kahf in official records. In that year the General Directorate of Cartography changed the name of this mountain along with the other mountains near to it to Inceburun Mountains.

The Persian emperors assigned Kakanus as the guardian of the emperor tombs. When Kakanus died, his son Dakyanus took his place. He opened one of the emperor tombs and stole the valuable pieces. Then he left Persia and settled in a city in Fis lowlands surrounding it with walls. He soon dominated the region and plundered the villages with his men. Both him and his people are idolaters, and they tormented and killed the ones who did not believe in idolatry.

One day he found out that, his sahibs Yemlihe, Mekselina, Misilina, Mernus, Sazenus, Debernus and Keseftayus were telling people that idolatry was wrong, nothing can be worshiped other that the one and only God. He gave the order to capture them. When the brothers heard that, they ran away and hid in a cave on Rakim Mountain. Seven brothers and their dog Kitmir were hiding in a chamber of the cave. They prayed to God to protect them, then they fell asleep.

Soldiers of Dakyanus found out where they were hidden and they surrounded the cave. Some of them entered and searched the cave but did not see them. Dakyanus closed the entrance of the cave with a wall in order to starve them to death.

One day, a shepherd found the wall and the cave. He demolished the wall in order to build a sheep fold, but he did not see the sleepers.

The sleepers woke up after some time and were hungry. They sent the eldest brother Yemliha to buy bread, but the baker did not accept Yemliha's money which was from the times of Dakyanus and not valid any more. 309 years had passed. Yemliha and his brothers told what happened to the present emperor and when went turned back to the cave they fell asleep again.

Yurt Encylopedia, pg. 2321.