eskig1A short bus ride 10km northeast from Niğde on the outskirts of Cappadocia will take you to Eski Gümüşler where a wall of rock punctuated with caves concealed the remains of a substantial monastery set around a courtyard until it was rediscovered in 1963.

Inside its church were found some of the finest of all the Cappadocian nedieval frescoes, with images of the Annunciation, the Nativity and the saints dating back to the 11th century. Even the columns are covered with colourful geometric patterns. 

Much has been made of an El Grecoesque elongated Madonna with a Mona Lisa smile; sadly, this only seems to have materialized after clumsy restorative efforts.

Upstairs more soot-blackened frescoes appear to show hunting scenes but with a flamingo thrown in for good measure. 

In the rush to admire the paintings it’s easy to overlook the evocative reminders of monastic life that surround the courtyard: rock-cut graves, huge storage pots built into the ground, even a rolling-stone identical to those used to close off the tunnels in the Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı underground cities. It's a lovely peaceful place, very popular as a nesting site with different birds including sand martins (?). eskig2

Transport info

Buses to Eski Gümüşler leave from the old bus terminal in Niğde town centre, NOT from the main otogar (bus station).

If you get off when you see the bus stop marked "Durak 11" you will be at the start of the rock-cut settlement and can follow it up a gentle incline to the monastery which is roughly in the middle.


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