Submit your hometown or village to be twinned with the place where George slew the dragon in Turkey
To mark St. George's Day, Friday, 23rd of April 2010, and celebrate the strong cultural associations that link the Turkish-born figure with England, the Mayor of Urgup in the province of Central Anatolia, Turkey - which possesses some of the earliest-known representations of St. George and the Dragon - is seeking an English town, village, or city to become Urgup's twin.
Inhabitants of English villages, towns and cities that can demonstrate a historical, cultural or religious association with the tradition of St. George are invited to submit a minimum of 500 words on why their home town should be twinned with Urgup. Nominations can be made by members of the general public, but they are also encouraged to seek out prominent members of their local community or local politicians who will serve as seconders to endorse their submission. The Mayor's office in Urgup will announce a shortlist of towns and villages in Autumn 2010, and announce the twin status to the winning English town, village or city on St. George's Day 2011.
The twinning project is being supported by Angels Fancy Dress to recognise the upsurge in interest from people seeking to celebrate St. George through fancy dress on the 23rd of April each year.
Urgup is located in the historical region of Cappadocia - now central Anatolia - where the legend of St. George originated. It stands at the foot of Mount Erciyes, reputed to be the location where St. George slew the dragon in the Third Century AD, before being executed at Nicomedia (now Izmit) at the orders of the Roman Emperor Diocletian on the 23rd April 303AD - giving rise to St. George's Day. The Göreme cave complex, which lies outside Urgup, contains a series of carved underground churches that were richly decorated by early Christian Orthodox Monks during the 10th, 11th, and 12th century including several of the earliest known representations of St. George and the Dragon.
Fahri Yildiz, Mayor of Urgup comments on the scheme: "This symbolic move will encourage a greater acknowledgement of the interest that Turkey and England share in Saint George. We are very proud of being connected to such a famous and well-known character, who has since become the Patron Saint of England. It is good to know that the tradition of St. George, and the legend of St. George and the Dragon, is alive and well there."
Emma Angel of Angels (the UK's largest supplier of St. George-related costumes and paraphernalia) comments on the twinning scheme: "Most English people are unaware that their patron saint originated in what is now modern Turkey. St. George is close to everyone's heart and therefore we think the twinning with an English town would be a good way of bringing St. George's life back into the public's imagination."
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History of St. George and England
The association between St. George and England predates his official adoption as Patron Saint in 1222. In 1350, King Edward III reaffirmed St. George as Patron Saint of England when he formed the Order of the Garter, with St. George as its patron. King Henry V, at the battle of Agincourt in northern France furthered the cult status of St. George by ordering all ships, pennants and uniforms to bear the Red Cross and white background for battle. Following this victory over the French, St. George's day became one of the main holidays in the English Calendar.
The legend of St. George and the Dragon originates from the myth of a dragon that lived near an as-yet unidentified town, nesting near the town's spring and preventing the townspeople from drawing water. Each day, they were forced to distract it with offerings of a sheep or, worse, a young girl, with the victim chosen by drawing lots. One day, the king's daughter drew the short straw and prepared herself to be offered to the Dragon. But St. George arrived, on his travels, confronted the dragon and released both the Princess and the town by slaying the Dragon.
St. George has also been adopted as the patron saint of many other countries, including Greece, Lithuania and Ethiopia.
History of Urgup and the Göreme Churches
Göreme is a village in the historical area of Cappadocia in Turkey.
Some 2,000 years ago, an enormous volcanic eruption of Mount Erciyes formed soft volcanic rock covering an area of 20,000 sq km. The local population recognising that the volcanic rock could be easily carved, created homes, churches and monasteries out of these new formations.
The Göreme Churches are the most famous and historically significant cave churches as the Orthodox monks who were living in the churches created colourful frescoes on the walls of the caves between the end of the 10th century and early 11th century.
UNESCO lists the Göreme Churches as a World Heritage Site. There are over 10 cave churches in Göreme at the Open Air Museum, most relevant to St. George include Barbara Kilise and Yilanli Kilise (or the Snake Church) where frescos of St. George slaying a dragon are engraved onto the soft rocks.