aktas1Eight km northeast of Niğde, just beyond the turnoff for Gümüşler, you will come to Yeni Mahalle, an extension of the village of Aktaş, 4km off the main road, and the site of Eski Andaval (Andabalis).

If you look off the main road to the left you will see a metal shelter beside the local school. This covers the rather startling remains of the 6th century stone-built Church of Sts Helena and Constantine with stumpy arches and arched windows. Its interior was once covered with wonderfully colourful 11th or 12th-century frescoes in a fine state of preservation although unfortunately you will not be able to get near enough to them to inspect the details. 

After the 1923 Graeco-Turkish population exchange the church was used for apple storage which may have protected the frescoes from worse damage.aktas2

The school next door has no key to the site. You could try enquiring at Niğde Museum. Alternatively if you visit in summer when archaeologists are working at the site you may be able to get a closer look. 

Aktaş itself is home to a 19th-century church (1842) now used as the local mosque. It sits in a valley with a stone quarry on one side and a rocky plateau rather like the one at nearby Gümüşler on the other side. If you follow the rough path that heads up onto the plateau from behind the church-mosque you will come to typically Cappadocian cave settlement with a couple of small rock-cut chapels. 

aktas3Transport info

Hourly buses from Niğde's Eski Garaj run to Aktaş itself, passing through Yeni Mahalle on the way.

Alternatively you can take any of the buses heading along the Derinkuyu-Nevşehir road and ask to be dropped off at the Yeni Mahalle stop. 



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