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Mustafapaşa (Sinasos)
The village of Mustafapaşa (formerly known as Sinasos), situated 6 km to the south of Ürgüp, is one of the nicest villages in Cappadocia. In the last century it was the centre of Cappadocia and rich Ottomans built their splendid mansions here. The whole village consists of such mansions and they are all built from square stone blocks of tufa. There are wonderful wall paintings and dainty relief works inside the mansions.
Mustafapaşa is also famous for the beautiful neo-classical façades and the ornate carved stonework of these houses. On some, a date or name has been finely written into the decorative stonework in Greek letters; something that still points to the thriving Greek Orthodox community of wealthy merchants who settled in the town in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
However, it very quickly becomes clear that very few of these old Greek houses are occupied. The vast majority have been left to the mercy of the weather for decades. Doors hang off their hinges, revealing vacant interiors devoid of life, barren rooms and open staircases.
The houses have been standing empty since 1923, when the forced population exchange between Greece and the newly independent Turkey Took place. Turkish-speaking Christians who had been living in Turkey for generations were deported, irrevocably changing the cultural demography of Kemal Atatürk's new nation. Back then, Mustafapaşa was known as Sinasos ("city of the sun") and was home to more than 8,000 Greek Orthodox Turkish nationals, who had lived peacefully alongside their Muslim neighbours for generations. The incoming residents – Muslim families from the Balkan states – numbered far less than the out-going Greeks and chose not to occupy the most imposing of the newly vacated houses. The population has since dramatically decreased to 1,500 and the town now contains a huge number of beautiful, abandoned houses that retain an air of faded grandeur, despite their poor state.
Another sight to visit is the Ottoman-era Şakir Paşa Medrese, an Ottoman period university college with an intricately carved portal now housing a modern university. It was built in the 19th century by Mısırlı Şakir Paşa to educate the sons of Turkish families in the town. Opposite Şakir Paşa Medrese is the Aşagı Mosque, formerly known as Camii Kebir, dating from 1600, although the portico and one minaret are recent additions. The old minaret is in Seljuk style, in interesting contrast to the new one.
Close to it is the church of Constantine and Helen, one of the town’s foremost monuments. It is dedicated to Constantine the Great and his empress, Helena. The frescos date from 1895 and were made by a Greek artist Kostis Meletyades who had been trained in Venice.
There is one more sight in Mustafapaşa which should not be missed, the Old Greek House, a beautiful typical mansion which was built in the 1800-s. Its first owner was a Greek artist Yorha Vasil, but later the house was sold to the Özturk family in 1938. For years the Özturk family used this beautiful place as a home. In 1992, the Özturk family converted the Old Greek House into a small hotel and restaurant and soon it became one of the most famous restaurants in Cappadocia. A very popular Turkish TV soap opera called "Asmalı Konak", the action of which took palce in Cappadocia, used the Old Greek House as one of their settings for the show.
Mustafapaşa can be visited on the Underground City Tour, Winter Special Tour 2 and private Outstanding Cappadocia Tour.
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