The old city of Avanos overlooks the longest river the Turkey, the Kizilirmak (Red River). Located 18 km north of Nevsehir, the ancient name of this city used to be Venessa. The most famous historical feature of Avanos, which is still relevant and very visible today, is its production of earthenware pottery.
The 13th century Sarihan caravanserai and the Ottoman Aladdin mosque are interesting pieces of architecture in the area. In Avanos we also find interesting examples of housing architect monumental structures.
Avanos is known for the art of pottery by using kick wheel since the Hittites. This craftsmenship has come to this day by passing on from people to people and from father to son. Soft and oily clay soil gathered from Avanos mountains and old beds of Kızılırmak is sifted and is turned into mud after a neat pugging. The desired pottery is created by shaping the mud with some skill on a bench called kick wheel and steered by using your feet. After the potteries, which are created in workshops called “işlik”, are dried first in the sun and then in the shadow, they are fired into the ovens that burn with straw and chippings between 800 and 1200 degrees with great care.
Food dishes, water jugs, pots and jars for preserving food for winter, water jars are some kinds of potteries. Avanos is known as the “The Craftsmenship and Shopping Center of Cappadocia”.
AVANOS - Historical Sites
On the banks of the Kizilirmak, near to Avanos, a marble sarcophagus was afound in a Roman necropolis. It is particularly interesting as it is the first sarcophagus to have been found in the area. The sacrophagus was discoverd in 1971, but unfortunately someone had already opened the gable roof lid and stolen the contents. After pathological and paleonthropological tests on the body and sarcophagus it has been established that the body belonged to a woman, whose hair was dyed with henna.
Also see (Whirling Derviches Ceremony at Sarihan caravanserai)
The county of Avanos lying by the Kızılırmak River is a center attracting attention with a very important caravanserai and two mosques. The structure is 2 km from Avanos, yet its date can not be established since the inscription is missing. The Sarıhan caravanserai consisting of a courtyard and closed sections is a Seljuq work of fine masoary with extraordinary rich ornamentation. Researches have indicated that it was built during the reign of Sultan İzeddin Keykavus II. This struc ture is based on 2.000 sqare metres and its main door at the eastern side is an extending mass which has been heavily ornamented. The facade and the sides have compositions mainly of geometrical designs and the enterance turning inwards with a large arch of two coloured keystones shows a continuation of the same ornamentation with the niches on the sides. Passing inside through the low arch which has a richly decorated profile we come to the vaulted room over which lies a small mosque.This small ached from interiors through a strairway adjacent to and it has a cap which is cylinderical at the ınside and outside, making a rising on the general composition of the After the vault covered room near the courtyard the main througha large door. The stables arealso fully closed withrong arch placed on 16 supports. Sarıhan is one of the outst works of Middle Anatolia with heavily ornamented work entrances and its coloured stones.
The mosque which is belived to be built by Alaeddin Keykub has been altered by the many restorations in different perio stone dome at the eastern side of the niche which is supported es and it is belived that the vaulted section is an adition by Mehmet in the l6th century. The mihrap and minber have nal character since they were repaired and painted so many tangular room at the north is reached through a passage dome and it is quite a recent addition. The minaret at the sout added in the year 1950.
The Avanos Ulu Camii (mosque) which is also known as the (Underground Mosque) is an Ottoman work from the l8th sructure which has a rectangular plan is reached down from level through a stairway. It is a stone structure covered with a ported vault. The daylight enters through the four windows wall as the niche and the whole interiors have been plastered is a simple niche and the minber is in the form of a tribune ition.
In Avanos we find interesting examples of housing architect monumental structures, such as the mansions of Dr. Hacı Cafer Ağa. The region is also famous with its potteries. The speried by the Kızılırmak river and the clay beds in the envoirme place an ideal zone for ceramics. The mud used in this wo from the locations of Gedik, Kurubayır, Cinderesi, Kızılöz and turned into a very suitable material for ceramics after vario The oily red mud takes its final form in simple workshops.
These workshops are named "işlik" or "çanakhane" by the loc and are vault covered simple rooms. The floors of the shops are and there are 1-4 tools in each one. The tools are placed near point which takes maximum daylight and are caled "çıkrık".The mud begins to turn on the wheel which is set into motion the artisan and in a few minutes the plastic mass gains unbeli Tourists crowod around to see what the artisan can make hands in a dim light.
The mud is kept in water to get the suitable density, and the be produced is chosen according to the characteristics whether it is soft, oily, hard, silted or etc. The various material artisan to produce ceramics of different dimensions. The fort from the wheels with care and left to dry on an airy bank nam.After being painted and glazed they are placed in ovens desired hardnessat 600 - 700 C. The paints as well as the formı for various purposes. The traditional production consists of post ,jugs and cooking utensiles ranging from 20 cm to 1.5 metres. They are fully func "gebece" and "yağdan" according to the their general form and the form of their handles. In the recent years artisans have been producing works for the giftshops imitating ancient Hititian and Frigian forms. There are presently 30-35 masters among the craftsman in the workshops.
Formerly known as the “Monks’Valley” (Rahipler Vadisi), Pasabaglari is situated about 2 km from Avanos . Many fairy chimneys with multiple stems and caps some housing chapels and living areas can be found here, this style being unique to this area. A chapel dedicated to St.Simeon, and a hermit’s shelter is built into one such fairy chimney with three heads. The entrance of the cell, which can be reached with antithetical crosses.
St.Simeon was living in seclusion near Aleppo in the 5th century, when rumours that he worked miracles started to spread. Disturbed by all the attention, he began to live at the top of a 2m high column, and later moved to one 15m in height. From there he only descended occasionally to get the food and drink brought by his disciples.
The hermits of Cappadocia distanced themselves from the world by cutting into fairy chimneys rather than living on top of columns. They hollowed out the chimneys from to to bottom creating rooms 10-15m high. THey lay on beds made form rocak, fed by locals via bucketed ropes to their lofty perches.
Zelve is situated on the northern slopes of Aktepe, 1km from Pasabaglari (Monks’ Valley) and 4 km from Avanos. The ruins at Zelve are spread over three valleys, which also house several pointed fairy chimneys with large stems.
The three valleys in the Zelve region are a paradise for the rock climbers. It takes at least two hours for a good trekker to walk through these valleys, which also house the oldest examples of Cappadocian architecture and religious paintings.
Like the ones in Uchisar, Goreme and Cavusin, it is not known when the rock dwellings in Zelve were first inhabited but it was an important settlement and religious area during the 9th and 13th centuries. The first beminaries to priests were given here.
The Direkli Churc (with Columns), situated at the bottom of the slopes, dates back to the early years of monastery life in Zelve. The main decorations are high relief crosses belnging to the Iconoclastic doctrine. Some of the most important churches in the valley are Balikli (Fish), Uzumlu (Grape) and Geyikli (Deer), belonging to the Pre-Iconoclastic period.
The valley was inhabited until 1952. Apart from monastreies and churches, houses, a tunnel joining two of the valleys, a mill, a mosque and several dove-cotes are found in the valley.
Balikli and Uzumlu Churches
Balikli and Uzumlu Churches are situated to the east of a monastery courtyard, in the third valley in Zelve. Above the entrance of the Fish and the Grape Churches, which has partly collapsed, is the depiction of Enthroned Mother Mary holding Baby Jesus. On the partly collapsed vault are Archangels Gabriel and Michael holding up a Maltese Cross.
To the right of the entrance is the single naved, barrel vaulted cell-like “South Chapel” with an apse. Inside the chapel, on the sides, there are seating platforms. On the apse, in a red frame, is Jesus standing and holding a book in one hand and blessing with the other. The front of the apse is decorated with series of simple triangles and circles with dots in them and the vault with drawn Maltese Cross and concentric circles. The chapel probably dates back to the 10th century.
The Tumulus of Çeç
The city of Nevşehir and its neighborhood is very enriched and famous for tumulus tombs. Because of some of them becoming too flat, it is very difficult to understand if it is a tumulus or not. In case of this, some of them are just like a second magnificent mountain bulk. There are lots of small tumuli tombs in Ürgüp, Avanos and Özkonak. In addition to these places, "Tumulus of Çeç" which is in the 1 km west of Avanos is very famous in these areas.
Between 1968-1969 archaeological excavation was made in some of the small tombs in the area, and seen that, all these tumuli are built in different times and some of them are built from soil and the others from stones. And all these show different cultures.
In addition to all these things, we can see the tumulus of Çeç as the biggest tomb of Nevşehir but there is also some uncertainty surrounding the tombs. Because nobody knows when or who built this tomb. The diameter is 300 - 350 and it's height is 30 m, and because it's that magnificent, it's very important to history.
It is too difficult to understand some historical mysteries in this area. Because there is only one tomb as measures and stone blocks. According to the people who live around this place: "years ago there was a king... " and as understanding it was built for a king. Even this tomb is a subject to some stories and legends. It may be the tomb of King Andros. . . looking at its dimension it's understood so easy. But all the scientific evidences are different from each other. It is said, these tombs were a place for religious meetings or a meteorological station to search the sky's movements, as well as being a kings tomb. When you look at this tumulus of Çeç, it is understood that it was built for an important man or thing and also that the death anniversary was very important in those times.
One of the oldest settlements in the area, Cavusin is sutiated 2 km from Avanos, on the 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 Cavusin valley, now in ruins. There are 5 churches at Gluludere, close to Cavusin. The Hacli Church (with the Cross), near the valley, was also used for defence against the Arab raiders.
Cavusin (Nicephorus Phocas) Church
The barrel vaulted Cavusin (Nicephorus Phocas) Church, with one nave and three apses, is sutiated 2 km from Avanos on the Avanos-Goreme road. Its narthex is collapsed. The church was built around 964/965.
Scenes: On the vault are Annunciation, Visitation, Proof of the Virgin, Flight into Egypt, Joseph’s Dream Ii, Blessing and Mission of the Apostles, Adoration of the Magi, Massacre of the Innocents, Pursuit of Elizabeth, Killing of Zacharias; on the west wall are Entry into Jerusalem, Raising of Lazarus, Healing of the Blind Man, Descent from the Cross, Women at the Tomb; on the wall of the apse Transfiguraiton; on the north apse Emperor Nicaphorus Phocas and his famill, which held power and authority in Cappadocia.
Özkonak Underground City
Özkonak Underground City Located 11 km northeast of Avanos, this underground city was built on the northern slopes of Mt. Idis in an area with lots of strata made up of volcanic granite. The extensive galleries of the city are spread out over a large area and connected to each another by tunnels. Unlike the underground cities in Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, there are very narrow (5 cm) and long holes between the different levels of the city that used to provide communication between the different levels of the city. The ventilation of these neatly carved out rooms was provided by these holes when the city was sealed up against enemies.