Gulsehir is situated on the southern bank of the Red River (Kizilirmak) and in ancient times it was called “Zoropassos”. Later, during the Roman Empire the town was named as Arapsun. Modern Turkey names the city as Gulsehir which means Rose City. The ottoman Grand Vezier Karavezir Mehmet Seyyid Pasha did the same thing in Gulsehir as Damat Ibrahim Pasha did in Nevsehir and built a kulliye in the town which had only 30 houses. This complex consisted of a mosque, a madrassa and a fountain.
Aciksaray (Open Palace):
15 km outside Nevsehir, on the Nevsehir-Gulsehir road (route 765), you will come across a deserted cave-village with rock-cut dwellings and chapels, to which the local inhabitants have quite recently given the name Aciksaray (Open Palace). The village is remarkable for its facades and the odd-looking formations, some resembling huge mushrooms, trees, even human faces.
This small settlement can be dated back to the 10th or 11th centuries. It covers an area of one square kilometer and contains eight complexes gathered around three-sided courtyards, each with a decorated main facade.
The first complex on the right when you enter Aciksaray from the Nevsehir-Gulsehir road has one of the best elaborate facade in Cappadocia. The complex has two irregular rooms and one rectangular, in which a large equal-armed cross is carved on the interior wall above the entrance. Their heads are lost, because a window-like opening has been cut on the wall. Only in Aciksaray, you will see the motif of the bull, regarded as sacred by the Neolithic communities in Anatolia as well as the Hittites.
St. Jean Church (Karsi Kilise):
The two floor church of St. Jean, found upon entering Gulsehir, houses a church, wine cellar, graves, water channels and living quarters on the lower floor, and a church decorated with Biblical scenes on the upper floor. According to the inscription on the apse, the church is dated to 1212.
The lower floor church is built to the shape of a cross, has one apse and arms of the cross are barrel-vaulted. The central dome is collapsed. Stylized animals, geometrical and crucifix designs are used to decorate the church in red ochre, which was applied directly onto the rock. The upper church has one apse, and is barrel-vaulted. Apart from those on the apse, the well-preserved frescoes were covered in a layer of black soot. The church’s present state is a result of the restoration and conservation done by Ridvan Isler in 1995.
Scenes from the life of Jesus and the Bible are in the form of friezes within the borders. Yellow and brown have been used on a black background. On the niche vault and on the sides, floral and geometrical patterns were used. On the west and south walls the Last Judgment can be found, a scene rarely depicted in Cappadocian churches.
Scenes of the St. Jean Church: Deesis on the apse, on its front the Annunciation, below that are bird designs, on the barrel vault portraits of saints in medallions, on the south wing of the vault the Last Supper, Betrayal by Judas, Baptism, below Koimesis (Falling Asleep of Mother Mary), on the north wings of the vault Descent from the Cross, Women at the Tomb, Anastasis, on the West and South walls the Last Judgment.
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PLACES TO VISIT IN CAPPADOCIA
- Goreme Open Air Museum: cave churches with frescoes
- Pasabag: mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys, monks valley
- Devrent: animal-shaped fairy chimneys, imagination valley
- Ihlara Valley: the deepest gorge of Anatolia
- Uchisar: Roman rock-cut castle
- Ortahisar: Roman rock-cut castle
- Avanos: center of pottery since the Hittites
- Zelve Open Air Museum: a cave town with churches
- Kaymakli Underground City: the largest underground city
- Derinkuyu Underground City: the deepest underground city
- Hacibektas: center of Bektasi sect of Islam
- Gulsehir: first settlements in Cappadocia
- Cave Churches: churches located in the valleys
- Caravanserais: 13th century hotels on the silk road