There are six exhibition halls in the Niğde Museum (Niğde Müzesi), where Central Anatolian archaeological history is presented in chronological order. Most of the artifacts exhibited are from excavations in the region.
Erected in 1223, the mosque, which has survived to the present day with some repairs, preserves its original features to a great extent and continues to function as a place of worship. In the mid-morning hours of the summer months, the shadows on the east-facing stone-carved portal of the mosque reveal the Head of a Crowned Woman. According to legend, the architect of the mosque had fallen in love with the daughter of Sanjak Bey, Niğde’s governor. Unable to wed her, he instead carved the portal in such a way that her portrait was visible when sunlight shadowed the door.
Sungur Bey Mosque
The mosque does not have a building inscription but is believed to have been erected around 1335. The mosque has survived to the present day with some repairs, but its original features and functions are mainly preserved, except for the covering system and the minarets. The iwan-style eastern crown gate has a distinctive place in Turkish architecture, featuring ribbed, Gothic-style vaults. The walls are ornamented with vegetal, geometric and figurative motifs; in particular, a series of figures attract attention: the bird, elephant, goat, horse, panther, antelope, dragon, rat, bull, rabbit, monkey, dog, lion, sheep, duck and fish are believed to have been made as decoration for the crown door, to represent the ancient 12-year Turkish calendar with twelve animals.
Kesikbaş Mosque and Tomb (Shams-i Tabrizi)
The mosque is simple and unadorned. The body in the tomb remains unidentified; but it is believed to be Shams-i Tabrizi, a prominent companion of Mevlâna Celaleddin Rumî.
Tyana Archaeological Site and Aqueducts
The ruins and aqueducts are in the town of Kemerhisar (Dam Fortress). Kemerhisar takes its name from those very aqueducts, constructed to bring the spring water from the ancient Roman Pool to other places in the Roman Empire. The ruins are beneath a large portion of the town. Important sculptures and similar works from different areas of the town, along with artefacts and architectural remains unearthed during scientific excavations at the site, are exhibited in the Niğde Museum.
Aqueducts in the city date from the 2nd and 3rd centuries; all are considered protected areas. Tyana, a place of settlement from the prehistoric age until the fall of the Hittites, was known as Tuwanuwa during the Hittite period; it served as the capital of the state in the late Hittite period and was ruled by the renowned king Warpalawa in BCE 738-715. It became known as Tyana in the Roman era.
Tyana Roman Pool
The Roman Pool (Roma Havuzu) was built in the 2nd century during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian, and was originally Olympic sized. The hot waters beneath the pool were delivered to the ancient city of Tyana (Kemerhisar) via aqueducts. The pool was repaired over the centuries but preserves its originality to a great extent.
Excavations conducted at Köşk Tumulus (Köşk Höyük), set on the rocky slope east of the Roman Pool, show that the oldest agriculture and animal husbandry settlement of the Bor Plain (BCE 6050-4911) was in this area. The first four layers of the five-layer settlement date to the late Neolithic period, and the latest layer belongs to the early Chalcolithic period. In the Neolithic period, the architecture indicates multi-room small spaces that were expanded according to need. In the Chalcolithic period, the houses were adjacent to each other, lining streets built according to a city plan.
The castle, on the hill where the old city of Niğde was located, is surrounded by three walls. Today, the segment that includes a fortress northeast of the hill has survived. The main tower of the castle, which is the only surviving bastion, was built at the highest point of the hill.
It is impossible to definitively state the castle’s age. Although there are traces of Arab and Byzantine influence on the structure’s lower walls, there is a possibility that the castle is much older – dating from the BCE 800s. The famous clock tower, erected on one of the castle’s old bastions, is a must-see monument and the symbol of Niğde.
Göltepe-Kestel Archaeological Site
This archaeological site is a tin mine dating from the early Bronze age (BCE 3200-2000). The Kestel Mine is 2 km from Göltepe, a settlement and ore processing area opposite the mine. Many mining, ore separation and smelting tools were discovered during excavations in the Göltepe-Kestel Archaeological Site (Göltepe-Kestel Arkeolojik Alanı), as well as ceramic pots containing tin slag.
Hüdavent Hatun Tomb
Built in 1312-1313, the tomb preserves its original character, despite having undergone repairs over the centuries. The structure is within the group of single-level, octagonal planned tombs. The tomb is distinctive in terms of its structure, as well as its vegetal, geometric and zoomorphic carvings.
The Porsuk Tumulus (Porsuk Höyük), also known as Zeyve Tumulus (Zeyve Höyük) by local people, is 55 km from the centre of Niğde. The tumulus contains evidence of Iron age and Hittite settlement through the late Roman period. Excavations at the tumulus have been ongoing since the 1970s, with the artifacts found so far displayed in the Niğde Museum.
Göllüdağ Archaeological Site
Located 60 km from the city centre of Niğde, Göllüdağ is a volcanic mountain 2,172 metres above sea level. Along with the remains of a sheltered city, there is also a crater lake at the mountain’s conical summit because of this lake, the region was named Göllüdağ (mountain with a lake).
Excavations revealed partially made structures, suggesting that the city was abandoned before its construction was completed. However, little else is known about this settlement.
Although the exact date of the monastery’s construction is unknown, it is believed to have been built between the 8th and 12th centuries. There appear to be no records on the name and history of Gümüşler town, where the monastery is located.
Carved into a large rock mass, the monastery is one of the largest in the Cappadocia Region, and is well preserved.
The most important structure of the monastery is the church located in the north of the complex. The church has a closed cross plan with four free supports. There are two burial niches to the north of the northern cross arm and two entrance spaces covered with cradle vaults to the west of the naos.
At least three different masters are thought to have worked on the church’s murals. In addition to Jesus, Mary and the apostles, there are important stories from the Bible, pictures of church fathers such as Basil the Great from Kayseri, Gregorios from Nysa, Gregorios from Nazians.
On the walls of a room above the narthex, scenes of hunting unlike any other in Cappadocia and a composition of various animals draw attention.
As in many churches in the Cappadocia Region, the murals in the Gümüşler Monastery (Gümüşler Manastırı) can be made according to the iconographic and stylistic features. The murals in the monastery were repaired in the 1960s by the British archaeologist-restorer Michel Gough.
The “Smiling Virgin Mary and Child Jesus” fresco is one of the most important frescoes in the Gümüşler Monastery.
Konaklı Greek Church
The church was built in 1844 in the name of Saint Vasilius. The basilica-planned building is constructed of basalt stone. The church was among the region’s important religious centres at the time of its construction. It is the largest of the basilica-built churches built in the region during the late Ottoman period.
Karaltı Kuş Kayası Tombs
The rock tombs are on two slopes of a valley. There are 15 tombs in total: 11 on the southern slope of the valley and four on the northern slope. Most of the tombs are similar to each other, with one differing in size and capacity from the others. This two-level structure is called the Kızlar Cave (Kızlar Mağarası) by the local people.
Since the building lacks an inscription, it is not known when the tomb was built. However, a little north of the tomb are a mosque and a fountain with the same name and, according to the inscription on the fountain, these structures were built in 1764-65. The same stone material was used in the mosque, fountain, and the tomb.
The church, in the Old Palace quarter, has a basilica plan. Built with smooth-cut basalt stone, its column capitals are decorated with leaf motifs. In the middle of the vault covering the main aisle are depictions of Jesus Christ, surrounded by four apostles, and symmetrically decorated with floral motifs.
Ulukışla Mehmet Paşa Complex
Known as one of Türkiye’s largest caravanserai, the Ulukışla Mehmet Pasha Complex (Ulukışla Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi), built in 1619, is in the Ulukışla district. The complex features a square-shaped mosque with a single dome, a courtyard and a bazaar (arasta) with 23 shops, and a hammam and a barn on both sides of the arasta. The complex was used as accommodation for soldiers as well as for caravan passengers. Another interesting note about the complex is that it inspired the poem of the Han Duvarları (The Walls of Inn) by the famous poet Faruk Nafiz Çamlıbel.
Aşağı Kayabaşı Church
The basilica-planned church is made of basalt type cut stone. Generally, both its interior and exterior are well preserved, and it can be accessed from the main road. Around the door is the shape of a cross and there is a Greek inscription dated 1835 at the entrance. The church is now a mosque known as the Begüm Mosque (Begüm Cami) among local people.
Inns, Covered Bazaars, Caravanserais
Niğde, an uninterrupted centre of settlement for 10,000 years, is on the route of the King’s Road, the oldest ancient road in Anatolian history.
To ensure security and safety along trade routes and in commercial activities, the Seljuks, among others, built inns on these roads. In Niğde, an important stop on the caravan route, there are many inns, covered bazaars and caravanserais that have survived to the present day. Some of these include the Sarıhan (Sarı Inn), Sarıçakıl Han (Sarıçakıl Inn), Keleten Han (Keleten Inn), and Kamereddin Han (Kamereddin Inn). The Kamereddin Inn (Kamereddin Han) is the only Seljuk inn on the Konya-Adana route, dating from the Seljuk period.
Andabalis, Old Andaval
Known variously in historical sources as Andavilis, Addaualis and Ambavalis, the settlement was originally built in the late Antique period as a duty station on the road from İstanbul to Pylaisi in Cilicia. The Byzantine-era church, 8 km from the Niğde city centre and approximately 1,500 years old, was briefly described in a travel book by W. J. Hamilton, published in 1842. Hamilton states that the church in Old Andaval (Eski Andaval) was built in the name of Constantine’s mother, Helena.
Traditional Niğde houses are set along Kadıoğlu Street and Cullaz Street. These houses reflect the typical characteristics of traditional Turkish houses in the area in detail. In general, they are made of stone with wooden cross beams. Most have gardens and monumental garden entrance doors. The buildings have flat roofs, though some feature half attics. While most of the houses lack inscriptions and endowments, those that have inscriptions are from the 19th century late Ottoman building groups in terms of style.
The creek is at the foot of Göllüdağ, one of the largest volcanic mountains in Central Anatolia, at about 1,600 meters above sea level. Volcanic activity in the area created obsidian, a natural glass that prehistoric communities used to make tools. The archaeological stratification here contains evidence of different human settlements, the most recent of which date back more than 160,000 years.
Stratification from the Palaeolithic age, which spanned millions of years, is of great importance not only for Central Anatolia, but for all of Türkiye, as well as the Near East and even Eastern Europe. Reflecting the evolution of Acheul culture, this stratification is unique to Anatolia. Still undergoing excavation, this open-air discovery is Türkiye’s most important Palaeolithic age settlement to date and the Anatolian Peninsula’s clearest insight into the question of early settlement. So far, it is a unique find.