Gulsehir - St. Jean Church

Gulsehir - St. Jean Church

Gulsehir, located on the southern shore of the Red River, has a long history dating back to ancient times when it was known as Arapsun. During the Turkish era, the town was renamed Gulsehir, which means Rose City. Like Damat Ibrahim Pasha in Nevsehir, the Ottoman Grand Vizier Karavezir Mehmet Seyyid Pasha also undertook significant construction projects in Gulsehir, including the construction of a complex that featured a mosque, madrasa, and fountain.

Gulsehir - St. Jean Church

Aciksaray is a deserted cave-village located about 10 miles northeast of Nevsehir. The village, which was recently named by locals, features rock cut dwellings and chapels. One of the most remarkable aspects of the village is the unusual land formations, some of which resemble huge mushrooms, trees, creatures, and even human faces.

This small settlement is believed to date back to the 10th or 11th centuries and covers an area of one square kilometer. There are eight complexes located in a circular region, forming three-sided courtyards. Each complex features a decorative facade on the front side that faces into a round courtyard with the building at its center.

The first building that is recognizable in Aciksaray has one of the most elaborate facades in Cappadocia. The asymmetric buildings have two rooms separated by a rectangular room and include an intricate cross carving on the inside wall at ground level. Although each of the heads is missing, there are four headless figures carved into each arm of the cross symbolizing a bull, which is regarded as sacred to both Neolithic people and Hittites.


As you approach Gulsehir, the striking two-story St. Jean Church will catch your eye. The lower floor of the church houses a wine cellar, graves, and a chapel in the shape of a cross with a single apse. The barrel-vaulted arms are the central feature of this layout, while the collapsed dome adds to its unique character. Bright red paintings of animals, crucifixes, and geometric shapes embellish the walls.

Gulsehir - St. Jean Church

The lower church is built to the shape of a cross and consists of one apse. The barrel-vaulted arms are central to this configuration and the dome has collapsed. Animals, geometric shapes and images of crucifixes adorn the church in bright red paint.

The church in the upper floor has one apse and is barrel-vaulted. Most of the frescoes are black from soot, but the well-preserved ones were salvaged by Ridvan Isler in 1995 during a restoration project.

The upper floor boasts an awe-inspiring church with intricate frescoes of Biblical scenes, some of which were salvaged during a restoration project led by Ridvan Isler in 1995. While most of the paintings are blackened with soot, the preserved ones feature reliefs of scenes from the life of Jesus and the Bible bordered by yellow and brown on a black background. The niche vault is adorned with floral patterns, while the west and south walls depict rare Last Judgment motifs for Cappadocian churches.

The frescoes in the St. Jean Church depict a range of scenes, including Deesis on the apse, the Annunciation on the front, bird designs below, portraits of saints in medallions on the barrel vault, the Last Supper, Betrayal by Judas, and Baptism on the south wing of the vault, Koimesis (Falling Asleep of Mother Mary) below, and Descent from the Cross, Women at the Tomb, and Anastasis on the north wings of the vault. The west and south walls are adorned with the Last Judgement.