Eski Gümüşler Manastırı is a Byzantine-era cave monastery rediscovered in 1963. It’s located a short drive from the city of Niğde. Due to it’s remote location on the outer edges of Cappadocia, it’s not as popular with visitors, but it’s well worth the time and effort to get to.
The monastery has a central courtyard where the monks’ quarters and the church are located. Some parts of the monastery were carved in the 7th century but most of the frescoes are from the 11th century. Much like the other larger cave churches and cities in Cappadocia, it’s got some tunnels and rooms typically found in cave monasteries.
The church is incredible. I wasn’t expecting it to be as well-preserved as it is. I had visited many other cave churches in Cappadocia but wasn’t impressed with most of them. This monastery is among the best in Cappadocia in terms of both preservation and workmanship quality of the icons.
The colorful icons and frescoes are very well-preserved thanks to a rigorous restoration effort in the 1960s.
Above the church there’s a room with non-religious paintings of animals, possibly scenes from Aesop’s Fables.
So many things were built right into the rock, including storage pots and small burial chambers. Look out for the round rolling stone that was used to seal tunnels from invaders. Every detail gives clues about the rough living conditions of the monks.
The last part of the monastery I visited was the two underground levels. They were probably used for food and water storage.
On both sides of the entrance to the monastery are small cave dwellings that can be explored if you have extra time. They’re part of a public park with a small path.
It’s also possible to climb the rocks to the top of the monastery and look down into the courtyard. From the top, you can get panoramic views of the village and see all the way to Niğde.
Buses leave for the village of Gümüşler from the old bus station in central Niğde (not the main bus station on the highway). You can get off the bus when it reaches the center of the village near the entrance to the monastery (you can’t miss it). Admission to the monastery is 5TL and it’s open daily.