The old name of Gülşehir, situated on the southem bank of the Red River, 12 km from Avanos, is Arapsun and in ancient times it was called “Zoropassos”. The ottoman Grand Vezier Karavezir Mehmet Seyyid Pasha did the same thing in Gülşehir as Damat İbrahim Pasha did in Nevşehir and a külliye was built in the town which had only 30 houses. The complex consisted of a mosque, a madrassa and a fountain.
This important area of ruins is situated 3km from Gülşehir. There are numerous rock cuttings including Roman tombs, and churches dating back to the 9th 11th centuries in this important bishopric. The mihrab in “the Mescid of Hacı Bektaş-i Veli”, it is called by locals, is interesting as it is a well preserved islamic building. To the west side of the mescid, with a square-like plan, are some quite large niches.
Rock formations in the shape o mushrooms are unique to this area.
Karsi Church (Of St John)
The two floor church of St.John, found on entering Gülşehir, 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.
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 onchre, 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 churc’s present state owes to restoration and conservation done by Rıdvan İşler in 1995.
The scenes of Jesus and the Bible are in the form of friezes within the borders. Yellow and red colors have been used on a black background. On the niche vault and on the west and south walls Last Judgement can be found, a scene rarely depicted in Cappadocian churches. According to the inscription on the apse, the church is dated to 1212.
Scenes : Deesis on the apse, on its front Annunciation, below bird designs, on the barrel vault portrait of Saints in medallions, on the south wing of the vault Last Supper, Betrayal by Judas, Baptism, below Koemesis, on the north wings of the vault Descent from the Cross, Women at the Tomb, Anastasis, on the West and South walls Last Judgement.