As Karballa, or Gelveri, Güzelyurt was a prosperous Ottoman-Greek town specializing in farming and goldsmithing.
The League of Nations population exchange following World War I took its hundreds of Greek-speaking families to Greece, where they founded the town of Nea Karvali. The exchange brought Muslim families from the Greek towns of Kastoria and Kozan to re-populate Karballa, now renamed Güzelyurt ("Beautiful Home").
As with many such exchanges, the number of Muslim families who came to Güzelyurt was far fewer than what the town could absorb, so many buildings went unused. This was fortuitous, as those buildings were not expanded or modified, but kept their traditional appearance.
Today Güzelyurt is preserved by law from modern development that does not fit its character. Local stonemust be used, and buildings must be appropriate to the town.
Most prominent among local monuments is the Great Church Mosque (Büyük Kilise Camii),built in 1896 as the Church of St Gregory of Nazianzus to replace a much older church built on this site in 385. More...
On your way between the underground cities of Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu to the east and the Ihlara Valley to the west (map), stop in Güzelyurt for a glass of tea, a meal, or even overnight.
Güzelyurt has its own small underground city beneath the town center, several churches converted to mosques, and a dramatic setting beneath the snow-capped summit of Hasan Dağı.
—by Tom Brosnahan