Courtyard complexes formed entirely out of the volcanic rock mass in Cappadocia, in Central Anatolia, differ from the other rock-cut structures in the region, in both scale and elaboration of design. There are more than forty such complexes in Cappadocia, either gathered in one location or isolated. Located on the Nevşehir-Gülşehir road, Açıksaray contains nine such complexes in close proximity, many of which feature monumental façades as well as reception areas and utilitarian spaces such as large stables around a courtyard. This paper, in the light of survey results, presents site analysis and architectural readings that lead the discussion of the nature and stages of occupation at Açıksaray. By doing this, the paper aims to bring new insights to the discussion on courtyard complexes, adding details and nuance to our understanding of the Açıksaray settlement, while noting similarities with other settlements in the region. Underlining the secular and elite character of the Açıksaray settlement, this study contributes in particular to enlarging the picture of medieval life in Cappadocia, and in general to the studies of Byzantine domestic architecture, for which architectural evidence is still scarce.
© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston