The monastic complex of Alahan is built in the mountainous Cilicia, in south Turkey. The visitor can reach the complex by ascending the main road that leads from Karaman (Laranda) to Mut (Claudiopolis). The complex is built on a natural ledge with an approximate width of 30m. and a total length of 250m. The steep incline of the ground on the south led to the construction of a retaining wall along its length. Due to the limitation of space, many of the buildings have an orientation that does not apply to the standards of the time.
Its foundation was probably in the mid-5th century and it reached its most thriving time during the reign of the emperor Zeno (474-491). Its structural development was completed gradually from west to east. Therefore, the initial settlements of the monks in the caves were succeeded by a monumental three-aisled basilica. East of the basilica a baptisterion, a two-storey edifice, probably for the reception of officials, and, in a greater distance than the above, a domed basilica were built. On the north side of the open space between the baptisterion and the east church, there was the necropolis. A processional walkway on the south of the two churches connected them both. On the south of the walkway and at a lower lever, residential buildings were constructed for the accommodation of the pilgrims.
Based on the sources, the dedication of the churches in the complex is till now unknown. However, different suggestions have been made, for example one that connects the west church to Evangelists and the monastery to the Archangels or, the extremely popular in the area, Saint Conon.
In a time that has not been accurately defined, the complex was abandoned. During the visit of Evliya Çelebi (1671-1672), when for the first time there is again a reference to the complex under the name Alaca Han (colorful han), the only visible building is the east (domed) basilica. An avid description by count Leon de Laborde in 1826 will follow and the excavations-restoration works on a regular basis of the period 1955-1974 will reveal the whole complex and lots of movable findings.