Mustafapaşa village – home to the headquarters of Cappadocia University – has been declared a “Best Tourism Village” by the World Tourism Organization.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), under a program launched in May 2021, recognizes tourism villages that have best preserved their communities, local customs and cultural heritage. The village of Mustafapaşa (Sinasos) in the Ürgüp district of Nevşehir, which is the center of Cappadocia University, was recognized as a “Best Tourism Village” by the World Tourism Organization at the 24th general assembly of the organization held in Madrid, Spain. Ürgüp District Governor Mehmet Maraşlı, who participated at the event, accepted the award from Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of UNWTO.
The World Tourism Organization, through its “Best Tourism Villages” program, aims to emphasize the ability of tourism to support rural development and the well-being of local communities, and to encourage the elimination of inequalities related to women, young people and disadvantaged groups by increasing their involvement in tourism. The preservation of natural rural environments, including their biological and cultural diversity, local values, the rural way of life and local cuisines, can bring economic value, achievable through focus on tourism.
Mustafapaşa: “Best Tourism Village”
Mustafapaşa village, as the home of Cappadocia University, has been selected as one of the “Best Tourism Villages” in the world by UNWTO. Formerly known as Sinasos, the village is home to some 200 registered structures, local cultures and traditions that date back to the 9th century AD, Middle Ages (Byzantine), Ottoman Era and early Republican periods. Mustafapaşa offers a unique cultural mosaic that formed around the common lives and cultures of the non-Muslim and Muslim populations who coexisted in the area prior to the Population Exchange brought about by the Treaty of Lausanne, and contributed to by the many Macedonian immigrants who arrived with the exchange.
Cappadocia University and Mustafapasa
Cappadocia University, the only higher education institution in Turkey with a central “village”, was established in 2005 in Mustafapaşa. Having established and developed itself in line with sustainable development goals since its foundation, Cappadocia University today provides many services aimed at the development and improvement of the region, protecting Mustafapaşa’s cultural heritage through such activities as restoration, in-village landscaping, facade design, supporting stray animals, promoting renewable energies, waste management programs, reduced water usage and food waste programs, creating local employment, offering opportunities for lifelong learning and regional education scholarships, and developing the hot air ballooning sector.
The University’s efforts in support of the sustainable development of the village include the documentation of the history of Mustafapaşa’s buildings with the local community, supporting tourism with the signage of the structures in the village and the establishment of the Mustafapaşa portal (mustafapasakapadokya.org). Cappadocia University is a corporate member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and carries out studies into sustainable tourism with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey.
Mustafapaşa Protects its Cultural Heritage
The natural and cultural assets of Mustafapaşa have been taken under protection with the “Mustafapaşa Conservation-Oriented Zoning Plan”. New constructions and renovations in the village have been restricted, being is under the control of the Cappadocia Area Presidency. The Presidency is also engaged in a tourism project aimed at the protection of the Mustapaşa Monastery Valley, which resembles a small-scale “model” of the Cappadocia Region with its fairy chimney formations, its ancient rock churches from the 8th and 9th centuries, its agricultural activities and the traditional lifestyles of the residents, but which also opens the valley up to tourism. The Cappadocia Tourism Infrastructure Services Association and Ahiler Development Agency provide funding for conservation, tourism development and infrastructure projects in the village.
The Mustafapaşa Culture, Tourism and Promotion Association supports the sustainability of the local lifestyle and production modes, while coordinating local studies for the promotion of Mustafapaşa on international and national platforms.