One of the most important centers in Cappadocia is Ürgüp, 20km to the east of Nevsehir. Like Göreme, Ürgüp also had different names in history; Osiana (Assiana) in the Byzantine
Period, Bashisar during the Seljuk Peroid, Burgut Castle in the Ottoman
Period and Ürgüp as of the early years of the Republic.
The earliest known settlement in the area was on the skirts of Mount
Avla, to the north of Damsa river called as “Tomissos” in the
antiquety. Though, the most important remains belonging to the later
period are the Roman tombs found in the towns and villages near Ürgüp. Also an important religious center during the Byzantine Period, Ürgüp was a bishopric of the rock-cut churches and monasteries found in the
villages, towns and valleys cut churches and monastreies found in the
villages, towns and valleys around Ürgüp.
In the 11th century, Ürgüp was an important citadel connecting with
Nigde and Konya, important towns of Seljuks. The two buildings from
this period are the Altikapili (Six Gates) and Temenni Tepesi (Wish
Hill) tombs found in the town center. The 13th century Altikapili tomb,
housing the remains of a mother and her two daughters, has six sides
each with an arched window and no roof. Although researchers think that
this is unlikely, one of the two tombs on the Temenni Hill is believed
to belong to Seljuk Sultan Rüknettin Kiliçarslan Iv, built by Vecihi
Pasha in 1268 and is known as “Kiliçarsalan Tomb” by the locals. The
other one is believed to belong to Alaaddin Keykubat III.
Ürgüp became a part of the Ottoman empire in 1515.
It was the first time in the 18th century when Damat Ibrahim Pasha, the
Ottoman Grand Vezier, established the governorship in Nevsehir
(Muskara). Ürgüp was then administered by the governorship making Ürgüp secondary in importance.
In his history and geography book “Kamus-ül Alam” written between 1888
and 1890, Semseddin Sami mentions 70 mosques, 5 churches and 11
libraries in Ürgüp.
The interesting rock formations, known as “fairy chimneys
have been formed as the result of the erosion of this tufa layer,
sculpted by wind and flood water, running down on the slopes of the
vallyes. Water has fonud its way through the valleys creating cracks
and ruptures in the hard rock. The softer, easily erodable material
underneath has been gradually swept away receding the slopes and in
this way, conical formations protected with basalt caps have been
created. The fairy chimneys
with caps, mainly found in the vicinity of Ürgüp
have a conical shaped body and a boulder on top of it. The cone is
constructed from tufa and volcanic ash, while the cap is of hard, more
resistant rock such as lahar or ignimbrite. Various types of fairy chimneys
, are found in Cappadocia. Among these are those with caps, cones, mushroom like forms, columns and pointed rocks.
are generally found in the valleys of the Uçhisar
triangle, between Ürgüp
and Sahinefendi, around the town of Çat in Nevsehir, in the Soganli
valley in Kayseri, and in the village of Selime in Aksaray.
Another characteristic feature of the area are the sweeping curves and
patterns on the sides of the valleys, formed by rainwater. These lines
of sedimentation exposed by erosion display a range of hues. The array
of color seen on some of the valleys is due to the difference in heat
of the lava layers. Such patterns can be seen in Uçhisar
/Kizilçukur and Pancarlik valleys.
situated 10km from Nevsehir, is fonud in the area surrounded with valleys, within the Nevsehir-Ürgüp
triangle. The old names for Göreme
are Korama, Matiana, Maccan and Avcilar. Since Göreme
was referred as Korama in the earliest written document known from the
6th century, it is thought that that is the oldest name given to the
place. In that document, it is said that St Hieron was born in Korama
at the end of the 3rd century, was martyred in Melitene (modern
Malatya) with his 30 friends and his hand was cut off and sent to his
mother in Korama. A very big depiction of St.Hieron of Korama is found
in the Tokali (Buckle) Church in Göreme Open Air Museum
It is believed that Göreme
and its surroundings were used as a necropolis by the people of Vanessa (Avanos
) in the Roman Periods. Both the monumental twin pillared Roman tomb hollowed out into a fairy chimney in the centre of Göreme
and the presence of numerous tombs in the vicinity support that idea.
an important Christian centre in the early years of the Middle Ages,
was a bishopric administered by Mokissos near Aksaray in the 11th and
13th centuries. Despite the vast numer of monasteries, churches and
chapels in the vicinity of Göreme
, there are not
many inscriptions bearing dates. For this reason, these religious
buildings are mainly dated according to the iconography or
Goreme Open Air Museum
By the end of the 2nd century a large Christian community had formed in
Cappadocia. It is known that there were two bishoprics at that time;
one in Kayseri, which, for a long time, continued to be a Christian
center in the regon and the other in Malatya.
In the 3rd century, priests with good character changed theregion into
a lively centre of Christian activity. In the 4th century Cappadocia
became known as the land of the three saints; The Great St.Basil,
Bishop of Kayseri; his brother St.Gregory of Nyssa, and St. George of
Nazianus. These three men created a new unity in Christian thought, and
many of St.Basil's thoughts and actions are still important dotay. An
example of his doctrine is the advice to Christian with one piece of
bread in a famine. He said that the Christians should give half of the
bread to a fellow believer and trust in God to take care of him.
St.Basil founded small, secluded settlements far away from villages and
towns. Daily worship was carried out under the supervision of a
preacher. These groups were not, however, priveleged gropus seperated
from the community like similar communities in Egypt and Syria. St
.Basil is important in that he introdued worship within the community
in the churches of Cappadocia.
Goreme open Air Museum is the place where this kind of religious education was started. The same model was then introduced in Soganli, Ihlara and Açiksaray.
Karanlik (Dark) Church
To the north, a winding stairway leads into the rectangular, barrel vaulted narthex of the Dark Church.
This church has a cruciform plan, the arms of which are cross vaulted.
There is a center dome, with four columns and three apses. This church
gets its name from the tiny window in the narthex which only allows a
small amount of light in. Due to the absence of light the colours of
the frescoes are still vivid.
and the narthex are richly decorated in scenes from teh Bible and the
story of Jesus. As in Elmali (Apple) and Çarikli churches there are
also scenes from the old Testament. The church dates back to the end of
the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries.
Scenes : Deesis, Annunciation, Journey to Bethlehem, Tativity,
Adoration of the Magi, Baptism, Raising of Lazarus, Transfiguration,
Entry into Jerusalem, Last Supper, betrayal of Judas, Crucifixion,
Anastasis, Women at the Tomb, Blessing and Mission of the Apostles,
Ascension, Hospitality of Prophet abraham, Three Young Men in the Fiery
Furnace and protraits of the saints.
Tokali (Buckle) Church
This is the oldest known rock-cut church in the region, and cmoprises
of four sections: The Old Church with one nave; the New Church; the
Lower Church under the Old Church; and the Parecclesion to the north of
the New Church.
The single-naved, barrel-vaulted Old Church, built in the 10th century,
today acts as the entrance to the New Church. Its apse collapsed when
the New Church was added to the east wing. Frescoes are to be found on
the vault and at the top of the walls. The life o Jesus is told on
separate panels on the vault, running from left to right.
Uçhisar is situated at the highest point in the region, on the Nevsehir-Göreme road, just 7km from Nevsehir. It is not known when Uçhisar was first inhabited, however, in style, it resembles Ortahisar and the Selime Kalesi (castle) in the Ihlara Region.
top of the citadel provides a magnificent panorama of the surronuding
area. Many rooms hollowed out into the rock are connected to each other
with stairs, tunnels and passages. At the entrances of the rooms, there
are millstone doors, just like the ones in the underground settlements,
used to control access to these places. Due to the erosion in places of
this multi-leveled castle, it is unfortunately not possible to reach
all the rooms. The fairy chimneys to the west, east and north of Uçhisar were hollowed out and used as graves during the Roman period. Inside
these rock cut tombs, the entrances of which generally fac qest, are
klines or stone slabs on which the bodies were laid. Many rock cut
churches have been discovered not only on the skirts of the castle but
also inside it. The reason for this may be the fact that Göreme, having numoreus churches and monasteries, is very close to Uçhisar.
The simple Byzantine graves on top of the castle are not very
interesting due to the fact that they have been eroded and ransacked.
It is said that in towns with citadels, e.g. Uçhisar, Ortahisar and Ürgüp (Bashisar), long defence tunnels reached far into the surrounding
areas. However, since the tunnels have collapsed in places, this theory
cannot be confirmed, but is a popular myth as to the great distances
Beside toms, many dove-cotes were hollowed out into the castle, fairy chimneys around it and on the clifffaces. The local farmers, although they did
not have much land,were in need of goods crops. Knowing that dove
excrement could help them with this problem and increase the amount of
crop they would get, farmers hollowed out dove-cotes into the sides of fairy chimneys and on the cliff gaces. Later the fertilizer was gathered and used in the fields.
Underground Cities in Cappadocia
Some of the most interesting cultural riches in the Cappadocia Region
are the 150-200 known undergruond settlements of varying sizes.
However, since there are cliff settlements of different sizes, in all
the towns and villages in the region covering an area of 25 000 square
km., this number maybe underestimated. Most of the rock settlements of
this kind were built by hollowing out the tufa from the ground. Except
the traces made by tools while hollowing, we do not have much
information about the techniques they used.
The name “undergronud city” is widely used, however, only some of them
were big enough to accommodate 30000 people and can be called “underground cities” but it is possible to call other small ones as “underground villages.”
Kaymakli Underground City
Even though the whole city has not been completely opened, and since
only 4 floors have been uncovered, it is certain that Kaymakli is one of the largest underground settlements in the region. The number
of the storage rooms in sucn a small area supports the idea that a
great number of people resided here.
Kaymakli underground city is built under the hill known as the Citadel of Kaymakli, in the centre of the town 19km from Nevsehir, on the Nevsehir-Nigde road. It was opened to vsitors in 1964. In the village of Kaymakli, the ancient name of which was Enegup, the people have constructed their houses around nearly one hundred tunnels of the underground city.
The inhabitants of the region still use the most convenient places in
the tunnels as cellars, storage areas and stables, which they access
through their courtyards. Kaymali Underground City is different from Derinkuyu Underground City in terms of both form and organization. The passages are low, narrow
and sloping. Only 4 floors are open to the public, in which the spaces
are organized around the ventilation shafts.
Derinkuyu Underground City
is situated 29km from Nevsehir, on the road to Nigde. The city is
approximately 85m deep. It contains all the usual rooms found in an underground city
(stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, churhes, wineries etc.)
Apart from these, a large room with a barrel vaulted ceiling on the
second floor was a missionary school, the rooms to the left being study
From the 3rd and 4th floors
onwards the descent is by way of vertical staircases which lead to a
cruciform plan church on the lowest floor.
The 55m deep ventilatino shaft was also used as a well. Not every
floorwas provided with the surface in order to protect the dwellers
from poisoning during raids.
Derinkuyu Underground City
was opened to visitors in 1965 but so far only 10% can be visited.
Mustafa Pasa (Sinasos)
Mustafapasa 6km to the south of Ürgüp
, was inhabited by Greek Orthodox families until the beginning of the 20th century. The houses
dating back to the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries
display fine examples of stonework. The Gömede valley, to the west of
Mustafapasa, resembles a small version of the Ihlara
valley. As at Ihlara
, the walls of the valley house churches and shelters carved from the rock, and a river runs through the valley.
The important churches and monastreies around Mustafapasa are, the
church of Aios Vasilos, the Church of Constantine-HNelene, churches in
the Monastery Valley and, the Church of St.Basil in the Gömede valley.
There is also a caravanserai
built during the Ottoman period and displaying fine examples of stone masonry and woodcraft.
citadel, built both as a defence and as a settlement, is situated 6km from Ürgüp
, on the road to Nevsehir. Typical examples of the raea's civilian architecture can be found among the houses
skirting the citadel. The sides of the valleys are littered with carved
out storage areas used for preserving local products such as apples and
potatoes, as well as oranges and lemons brought from the Mediterranean.
Very interesting churches and monastreies can be fonud in the
surrounding valleys. Among these are, Sarica Church, Cambazli Church,
Tavsanli Church, Balkan Deresi Churches and Hallaç Dere Monastery.
Zelve Open Air Museum
monastery complex is situated about 10 km out from Goreme
on the road to Avanos
. Although the churches here lack the elaborate frescoes of Goreme
and other sites there's still plenty here to see. The series of valleys
can provide you with a couple of hours walking, climbing and crawling
about and in addition to the marked highlights (the Fish and Grape
churches) there are innumerable rooms and passages to look at.
was inhabited until quite recently but you can almost see the place
crumbling before your very eyes. There's probably an element of risk
involved in exploring too enthusiastically but a guide should be able
to balance the thrill of stumbling through pitch black tunnels by
torchlight with an element of safety.
Avanos is the pottery centre of Cappadocia. The city is set on the banks of
the Kizilirmak, meaning the Red River. The river gets its name from the
clay that it deposits - the caly that is used for the pottery Avanos is famous for.
The main street of town has numerous shops and workshops selling plain
and decorated pots and plates and you can watch the potters at work
using kick wheels, the design of which has remained unchanged for
generations. Many of the workshops will encourage you to have a go
yourself. Groups of tourists are shipped in the whole time and there
are always a few people willing to give it a go - always good for a few
Sights in town include the Caravanserai, a restored Han (travellers 'service station'), and the Ozkanak Underground city, a smaller version of those at Derinkuyu and Kaymakli.
One of the oldest settlements in the area, Çavusin
is sutiated 2km from Göreme
, on the Göreme
road. The Church of St.John the Baptist offers a panoramic view of the
village. This church and its paintigs date back to the 5th century,
making the oldest church in the region. It had a large courtyard which
is unusual for Cappadocia, this has been eroded away however.
Christian missionaries and communities once lived in the old Çausin
valley, now in ruins. There are 5 churches at Gluludere, close to Çavusin
. The Haçli Church (with the Cross), near the valley, was also used for defence against the Arab raiders.
This valley is situated near Yesilhisar in the province of Kayseri, 40 km southeast of Urgup, and 25 km to the east of Derinkuyu. Fractures and collapses during earthquakes hav added to erosion resulting in deep valleys and canyons. Soganli valley,which is divided into two has been occupied since the Roman
period. The rock cones fonud on the sides of the valley were used a
graves by the Romans, and later as churches by the Byzantines. The
frescoes in the church date back to the 9th and 13 th centuries.
Impartont churches in the valley are Karabas, Yilanli, Kubbeli and the
Church of St.Barbara (Tahtali).
valley is number one in Cappadocia when it coems to spectacular
scenery. It's removed a little from the rest of the Cappadocian sites
it can be a little tricky to get to but it's worth a full day if you
can spare one.
The gorge is 16 km long and both sides are
lined with rock carved churches, about 100 in all. You can look at the
more important of these in a couple of hours but it's very pleasant to
spend an afternoon following the river down the valley and exploring on
The climb down to and especially up from the gorge can be demanding and
probably shouldn't be attempted if you're feeling frail. To make the
most of your time here a full day and a picnic is a good idea and will
repay the effort in terms of a relaxed days pottering about admiring
the churches and the valley's beautiful scenery.
is 45 km from Aksaray and 15 km from Ihlara
. With its beautiful nature and 19th century architecture it is an important place for visitors to Cappadocia.
Gregory of Nazianzus, who worked hard to spread Christianity in the area, turned Guzelyurt
into an important center.
Churches found in guzelyurt
are, Yuksek, Kizil, Silvisli, Ahmatli and Koc. Guzelyurt
also boasts a church built in 1891, now used as a mosque.
Doves are the symbol of peace and devotion to family in Islan whereas regarded as a symbol of the “Holy Spirit” in Christianity.
Dove-cotes, hollowed out into the upper parts of almost all the valleys and fairy chimneys
generally face east or south sides of the valleys. Since doves are in
need of water to digest the grains they hava already stocked in their
craws, they are also named “the guarding birds of the fountains”. For
this reason dove-cotes were hollowed out near the water sources.
Although most of the dove-cotes in the region of Cappodocia date back
to the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, there
are few examples dating to the 18th century. These small buildings do
not attract our attention much but are important in terms of showing us
Islamic painting art which is rarely fonud in Cappadocia region.
The reason behind hollowing out dowe-cotes was not to catch and eat
pigeons but to use their excrement as fertilizer. The locla farmers
used pigeon droppings as fertilizers for generations, and for this
reason, a great number of dovecotes were hollowed out.
built along roads running from Antalya-Konya-Kayseri to the land of
Turkomans passing through Erzurum and Tabriz and from the Black Sea
region to Irak via Amasya-Tokat-Sivas-Malatya-Diyarbakir at a distance
of 30-0 km, one day camel trek.
It is possible to see some of the most beautiful examples of caravanserais
in the region of Cappadocia, especially between Aksaray and Kayseri,
since it is an intersection, east to west and sout to north.
It is located in the valley of Damsa, 5km southeast of the town of Avanos
in the vicinity of Nevsehir and 6km east of Urgup
. The han is on the Aksaray-Kayseri route in the East-West connection.
, build during the reign of Izzettin Keykavus 1-upon his orders- in 1249, covers an area of 2000 m square.
Yellow, reddish pink and light brown regular sotne blocks were used as building material in Sarihan
A decorative look was achieved by using stone of two different colors
in the arches of both the monumental portal and the inner portal.
Cappadocian Civil Architecture
19th century Cappadocian houses
were built on hill sides, either carved out of the rock or built from
large cut stones. Volcanic stone is the only architectural material in
the region, used for building as it is soft when extracted and can
therefore easily be cut and shaped. It hardens on contact with air to
form a very resistant material. The abundance of stone in the area, and
the ease of use have created a buliding technique unique to the area.
Wood is used for courtyard gates and the houses
'doors. Rosette and ivypattens are used as decorations above the arched doors.
The areas between floors are decorated in up to three rows of rosettes,
fans, stars, palmet, weather vanes and stylised plant patterns.
Windows are grouped in twos and threes and stylised plant patterns are
also used as decorative borders. Two types of window are used, either
two panes opening separately or guillotine style.
In both types of house there are numerous living rooms, a kitchen,c
ellar, store room, an oven (tandir), wine vat etc. Niches found in the
guest rooms are decorated with paintings of vases full of flowers under
silk, tasseled curtains, scenes from nature or women filling, or
carrying water vessels. These scenes ara painted on plaster.
The most interesting examples of local architecture belong to the end
of the 19th and begining of the 20th centuries. Examples can be fonud
all over the region, but partiularly in urgup
, in Guzeloz and nearby Baskoy in the province of Kayseri and Guzelyurt
near the region of Ihlara