Town of Roses

Town of Roses Date 
Town of Roses 
Before the Ottoman conquest, Gülsehir, then known as Arapsun, was only a tiny village of a dozen homes, over-shadowed by the great Christian cultural and religious center in the vicinity, now called Aciksaray (Open Palace).

During the liberal governorship of Mehmet Efendi, Arapsun became an important Islamic center of learning. Several distinguished statesmen of the Ottoman Empire were born, or educated here. Under the patronage of Seyit Mehmet Pacha, the Grand Vezir, known as Kara Vezir (Black General), because of his customary black habit, devoid of ornaments, nomadic Turkoman tribes were settled in the region. Mehmet Pacha developed Arapsun and was the founder of modern Gülsehir, a lovely township with patches of woods near the river Kizilirmak. A precipitous dominant hill overlooking the town is honeycombed with caves and the neighborhood is a sea of conical rocks and curious rock formations. Archeological evidence indicates that there were several Hittite, Greek and Roman settlements in and around Gülsehir. In the village of Sivasa the four sides of a twelve-foot boulder are inscribed with Hittite hieroglyphs. The base of the boulder is buried deep in the soil, but its upper section contains two graves, or rather burial chambers and perhaps the inscriptions refer to those.

In the villagine of Agili, more Hittite incisions cover a cliffface and a subterranean church with columns is accessible to visitors.

A short walk from Gülsehir will take the visitor to the Karsi Kilise (Saint John Church) which, in the past, ought to have been one of the oustanding artistic achievements in the region. The church has two floors with arches recesses in every wall, richly decorated with frescos, unfortunately much damaged through man’s ignorance. Bonefires lighted in the church probably by sheperds seeking shelter against the winter cold had covered the frescos with soot and what remained was given the “coup-de-grace” by unscrupulous “tourists” who lef behind their “visiting cards” scratched into the murals; thousands of recent names and dates, none older than fifty years.

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