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    Cappadocia Guide » Aksaray » 

Writer: Yavuz İşçen
January 2010/Ankara

Before the Hellenistic era, Aksaray was known as ‘Garsaoura’. It is thought that the word Garsaoura is the same with ‘Kursaura’ city which was mentioned on Hittite scriptures. Later on, during the Cappadocia Kingdom when the Persians were dominating the region, Aksaray was named as ‘Archelais’ because of King Archelaos, who re-established the city. During the Byzantine period the name was pronounced as ‘Taxara’. During the Ottoman Empire, period of Mehmed II, the Conqueror and Beyazıt II, the name turned into ‘Aksara’ and after Beyazıt II, it turned into ‘Aksaray’. In the center of Aksaray, the work of art such as Ulu Mosque, Eğri Minareli (Curve Minaret) Mosque, Zinciriye Madrasah, Somuncubaba Tomb and Kılıçarslan Tomb can be seen.

Aksaray Museum
Most of the works of art exhibited in the Museum are from Acemhöyük and Aşıklı Höyük. The woman skull, which explains us a brain operation done 10 thousand years ago, is very interesting and is worth to see.

It’s in border of Yeşilova village, about 13 km west of Aksaray. It has been a settlement since BC 3000.

Saint Mamas Grave and Church
The grave of Saint Mamas and the church in the honor of his name is located in the village of Aksaray, Gökçe Köy whose ancient name was Mamasun.

Ağzıkara Inn
It is at 15th km of Aksaray-Nevşehir road. The construction of the inn was started on 1231 by Alaaddin Keykubat and it was finished on 1239 by Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev.

Üresin Inn (Tepesidelik Inn)
It is at 21th km of Aksaray-Nevşehir road.

Alay Inn
It is at 33th km of Aksaray-Nevşehir road. Its name is coming from one of the villages later on established very close to it.

Sultan Inn
It is situated in Sultanhanı area. To reach the area, the Aksaray-Konya road should be taken. At 42nd km of the road you may reach to Sultanhanı.

Mokisos Ancient City
The city is known as one of the important settlement centers of Roman and Byzantine periods and it is situated 1 km south of Helvadere. The remains, mostly from the early Byzantine period, can be seen and expanded in a larger area. In Mokisos, today, the walls made of big stones and two churches are attractive (Kemerli Church and Kara Church).

Süt Church
It is situated 1 km southwest of Helvadere Borough.  It is next to the camping area which is being used during the Hasan Mountain climbings. 

Yardıbaş Church
It is situated 2 km southwest of Helvadere borough. 

Bozboyun Chruch
It is situated at 3 km southwest of Helvadere borough. 

Tepe Church
It is situated at 3 km southwest of Helvadere borough. 

Kara Inn
A Seljuk Inn and is situated 2.5 km southwest of Helvadere borough. It is also called as Ashab-ı Kehf Inn.
Kale Church
It is situated in Yenipınar Village.
Sarıgöl Church
It is situated 3 km northeast of Yenipınar Village.

Anatepesi Church
It is situated 3 km south of Karaören which is on Karkın-Aksaray road. There is a church which turned into a mosque. 

Çanlı Church
It is situated at 7 km northeast of Akhisar Village which is on Karkın-Aksaray road. The church is a typical 11th century building and made of cutoff stones.

Hasan Mountain
There is no need to explain where the mountain is situated. You may see it from every point of Aksaray. The Hasan Mountain, 3268 m high is a volcanic mountain.

Tuz Lake Bird Watching Area
It is the second biggest lakes of Turkey. To reach the Tuz Lake Bird Watching Area, the road of Eşmekaya Rushy should be taken and continued towards Eskil borough. The observation area is 10 km northwest of Eskil.

Eşmekaya Rushy Bird Watching Area
It is placed in Eşmekaya borough belongs to Eskil district.

Aşıklı Höyük
It is situated in Kızılkaya Village of Aksaray Gülağaç district. The excavation, which is on the mound at the side of Melendiz Stream, is being leaded by Prof. Dr. Ufuk Esin, from İstanbul University, Prehistoria Department. During the excavations there found an important settlement center which belongs to Neolithic life style.

Musular Höyük
It is situated in the same area of Aşıklı Höyük and 1 km south of Kızılkaya Village. It has two settlement eras, one is clayless pot period and the other is clay pot Neolithic period. 

Güvercinkayası Höyüğü
It is situated at 1 km west of Çatalsu/Apsarı Village of Gülağaç District and in the flooding area of Mamasun Dam Lake. The mound is a settlement area of Calcholithic era. 

Bekar Sultan Tomb
It is situated at 2 km east of the district and in between of Bekarlar Village and the district center. The Tomb has 8 faces and is situated on to four corner base.

It is known that Güzelyurt was called Karballa during the Roman and Byzantine times. Later, the Greeks changed this name to Kalvari and the Turks called it Gelveri and used it for many years. After the Republic established on 1931, the village became a subdistrict and after 1965 for its name a Turkish word was used and changed into Güzelyurt. On 1989, Güzelyurt village became a district. 

Güzelyurt Houses
The Greeks built beautiful stone houses with vaulted and arched ceilings. In order to meet with the beautiful houses of Güzelyurt, walking around the narrow streets is enough.

Karballa Hotel (Old denominational school)
There is a school, built by Turkish stone experts in 1856, dedicated to religious education in Güzelyurt. After going through a restoration in 1986, this building now serves as the Karballa Hotel.

Cami Church (Gregorius Teologos Church)
There has been constructed a church on 385 by the Byzantine Emperor Teodosius in Güzelyurt and it has been named as Gregorius Teologos. Today, it is known as ‘Cami Church’ and situated in Aşağı Mahalle of Güzelyurt.

Sivişli Church (St. Anargirios Church)
Located on a hill opposite Cami Kilise, this church is mainly carved in rock with parts built with carved stones.

Koç Church
The church derives its name from Hacı Saadet Koç, who once used it as a granary.

Cafarlar Church
It is situated on the same rocky hill of the Koç Church and it is 150 m away. Among the Güzelyurt churches, it is the only church whose frescoes are in a better shape.

Manastırlar Valley and Churches
The Manastırlar Valley starts after 2 km southwest from the center and it is 4 km long. The Valley which consists of eight different churches and like Ihlara Valley, it has a look of canyon surrounded by high rocky hills, along the bottom of which runs a small tree-lined stream.
Kalburlu Church (St. Epthemios Church): It is situated on the north part of the Manastırlar Valley. According to the older resources the church has been constructed on 690 by Saint Simeon and it was named as ‘Saint Epthemios’.
Kömürlü Church: The only church that is on the south of Manastırlar Valley is Kömürlü Church.

Gaziemir Underground City
The Gaziemir Village is 18 km far away from Güzelyurt. Two churches, a winery, and many wine barrels are encountered in the underground city. Along with these remains, food stores, barns, tandoori fireplaces, Turkish baths, and various living areas can be seen.

Kızıl Church
It is one of the most attractive stone churches of Cappadocia region. It is located on Çiftlik-Niğde road and 6 km far away from district near Sivrihisar Village.

Analipsis Church (Yüksek Church)
It is a 19th century Greek church, built on Analipsis Höyük. At the west entrance of the church, on each of the arch stones, there written one number and these forms the date of 1894.

Our pleasant land of Güzelyurt district, Ihlara Borough, is located nearby Melendiz Stream. It is situated at the entrance of Ihlara Valley and for a certain period its name was changed into Yeşilyurt. 

Ihlara Valley (Peristrema)
Ihlara Valley succeeds in amazing people who see it for the first time. The valley sometimes reaches 100 m in height and winds for 14 km between the Selime and Ihlara towns of the Aksaray province.
Besides its unique nature the valley contains about 100 partly hidden churches, 12 of which are visited frequently. We recommend you to visit Ihlara Valley in two stages.
Sümbüllü Church: This double storey monastery church was carved into a rock where the front side was decorated.
Ağaçaltı Church: This church was called two other names; the Daniel Church, as it contains a fresco that illustrates Saint Daniel amongst lions, and Pantanassa Church due to an inscription thought to be dedicated to Pantanassa.
Pürenli Seki Church: This church which is carved into a rock, consists of four chambers.
Kokar Church: This single storey church was carved lengthways into a rock.
Yılanlı Church: Since the main entrance of this church, which is carved into a rock and planned as the shape of a Greek cross, has collapsed, today the entry is through the end of the collapsed entrance corridor.
Karanlık Kale Church: It was carved into a rock as a monastery and doesn't contain any frescoes. This church dates back to the 9-10th centuries or the mid 11th century.
Eğritaş Church: Built before the Iconoclasm period (725-843), Eğritaş is thought to be one of the oldest and largest churches of the valley.
The Belisırma Village of Güzelyurt district is located just in the middle of Ihlara Valley. Visiting this village is a golden opportunity for the ones who want to taste a typical Anatolian village. There are five important churches around the village, which you may visit by a short distance walk. 
Direkli Church:
It is located on the west side of the Melendiz Stream. As you follow the road down to Belisırma Village from the west, on your right side you will find the church. Bahattin Samanlığı Church: It is situated on the west side of the Melendiz Stream. You may find the Church after 50 m as you follow the road from Direkli Church towards the Ihlara Valley.
Kırk Dam Altı Church (St. Georgios Church): The other church situated on the west side of the Melendiz Stream is Kırk Dam Altı Church. You may reach to the Church in 10 minutes as you start walking from Bahattin Samanlığı Church to the direction of Ihlara Borough.
Ala Church: It is located on the east part of the Melendiz Stream and on the north of Belisırma Village center. It is on the right side of the road to Güzelyurt.
Karagedik Church (Saint Ermolaos Church): It is situated at the east side of the Melendiz Stream. The Greek of Belisırma Village used to call the Church as ‘Saint Ermolaos’.

The village of Güzelyurt, Yaprakhisar Village, is situated at the end of Ihlara Valley. There are two churches at the east side of the valley which is situated opposite of Yaprakhisar Village. These are Davullu Güvercinliği Church and Koyunağılı Church located on the right of the bridge which is on the road from village to valley.

Ziga Thermal Spring
Ziga Thermal Springs are located in Yaprakhisar Village and 30 km to Aksaray and 18 km to Güzelyurt.

Selime Borough of Güzelyurt is situated end of the Ihlara Valley between the Melendiz Stream and the rocky mass just behind it. This lovely borough is one of the tourist riddens in the region. 

Selime Cathedral
The high rocky mass located in Selime borough was used as an engraved castle, burrow, cult and graveyard by the locals of the area during the history.
Kaya Monastery Church
The Church attracts people by its brilliant columns lined in two rows and the arches over these columns.

Selime Sultan Tomb
The Tomb is known as ‘Ali Paşa Tomb’ and located in the graveyard of Selime Borough.

Taşpınar Carpets
Taşpınar, located about 20 km south of Aksaray is famous with its hand-weaved carpets. Its woofs and warps are wool and colored by madder root and therefore the interests on these carpets are quite a lot.

Note: This article has been published in “Cappadocia Life and Travel Guide-2010”. It is under protection of the copyrights of the book. No part of this article may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by electronic, mechanical or other means without prior permission from the owner.

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