01 Apr Urgup
Urgup is one of the most important centers in Cappadocia, 20 kilometers at the east of Nevsehir. It has had different names in its history: Osiana (Assiana) in the Byzantine period, Bashisar, during Seljuk, Castle Burgut in the Ottoman period and finally Ürgüp, since the early years of the Turkish Republic.
The oldest known settlement in this area was located in the foothills of Mount Avla, at the north of the river Damsa. However, Roman tombs, belonging to a later period, are the main findings and traces of its antiquity. During the Byzantine period Urgup was an important religious center, who became the rector bishopric of all the monasteries and churches carved into the rocks of the villages, towns and surrounding valleys.
In the eleventh century, Urgup was an important fortress connecting to Nigde and Konya, the main cities of the Seljuks. The two most significant buildings of this period are the Tombs of the Temenni Tepesi (The Hill of Desire) and Altikapili (Six Doors).
Urgup became part of the Ottoman Empire on 1515 and it was not until the eighteenth century that the Great Ottoman Mizir Ybrahim Pasha Damat moved the Governorship to Nevsehir (Muskara), from which it started to belong, losing its own prominence.
Pancarlik Valley is at the south of Ortahisar, to the right side of the road between Ürgüp and Mustafapasa. Pancarlik, the church, has a single nave, an apse and a flat roof. The frescoes in this church are well preserved, and most of them are painted on a green background. At first glance, it looks like two different artists were responsible for the works, but after a closer inspection, experts said that it was the same person.
These frescoes represented sequential Bible passages, surrounded by portraits of saints and other details. The origins of the church dates back to the eleventh century.
Tagar Church (Church of San Theodore)
The town of Yesiloz, harboring the Tagar Church or Church of San Theodore, is located to the right of the road between Urgup and Kayseri, at about 8.5 kilometers from Urgup. Its T-shaped dome is covered with glass, since the original collapsed.
You can access the upper gallery by a ladder. In general, this is the only example of this type of religious building in Cappadocia. Its frescoes remain well preserved and were painted by three artists, all in their own style. This church, dedicated to St. Theodore, dated between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries.
The town of Mustafapaşa (Sinasos), at 6 kilometers south from Urgup, was inhabited by Greek Orthodox families until the early 20th century. The current houses, which date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, are excellent examples of stone work in apartment buildings.
The Gomede Valley, at the west of Mustafapaşa, resembles a small version of Ihlara Valley and as in there, the walls and slopes harbor churches and shelters dug into the rocks. Just as in Ilhara, a river runs through the valley.
The most important churches and monasteries around Mustafapaşa are the Church of Aios Vasilos, the Church of Constantine-Helena, the churches in the Valley of the Monastery and Church of St. Basil, in Gomede valley. There is also a caravanserai or inn, built in the Ottoman period that shows excellent examples of their works in masonry and wood.