Niğde is a small city and the capital of Niğde Province in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. Population is 78,088 in the city and another 99,308 in surrounding villages. Elevation is 1,300 m.
The city is located between the volcanic Melandiz Mountains, including the Mount Hasan stratovolcano near the city of Aksaray to the north, and the Niğde Massif to the south-southeast. The massif is a metamorphic dome that contains abandoned antimony and iron mines. Several marble quarries are currently active in the pure white crystalline marble of the massif.
See Niğde Province for a summary of the history of the region, which goes back a long way. This is rich famland near a number of ancient trade routes, particularly the road from Kayseri (ancient Caesarea) to the Cilician Gates. Settlers throughout history include Hittites, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and finally Turks from 1166 onwards. By the early 13th century Niğde was one of the largest cities in Anatolia. After the fall of the Sultanate of Rûm (of which it had been one of the principal cities), Niğde became independent, and, according to Ibn Battuta, ruinous, and did not pass into Ottoman hands till the time of Mehmet II.
More recent immigrants include Turkish people from Bulgaria and other Balkan countries, who were settled here by the Turkish authorities in the 1950s and 60s.
Nigde University opened in 1992 and is starting to bring more cultural and social amenities to what is essentially a largish town with a very rural feel to it, providing schools, basic shopping, and other necessities to the surrounding villages. The city is small and there is still plenty of green space and gardens around the houses. The people generally tend to be religious and conservative.
Noted industrialist Ayhan Şahenk was born in Niğde and his family built a huge library on the university campus in addition to assisting the local municipality with the construction of a number of facilities.
Places of interest
The countryside around Niğde is attractive with its array of volcanic rock formations and eroded rock formations. Also as this is an area with a very long history there is a great variety of ancient, Christian and Islamic architecture, including Cappadoccian underground cities and some of the finest Seljuk Turkish buildings, dating from almost all ages of the Seljuk period.
Places to visit in the city include....
Niğde castle (restored) - on a hill above the old town.
Niğde has a number of important buildings of various periods of Turkish settlers, including:
The impressive mosque of Seljuk leader Alaeddin Keykubat (as well as its impressive architecture the mosque has a curious feature; apparently if you visit at the right time of day the shadow throws a perfect silhouette of a girl). a photo
The tomb of Hüdavend Hatun, (1312) the daughter of Seljuk Sultan Kılıçarslan IV. a photo
The tomb of a son of the Seljuk Gündoğdu dynasty, (1344)
Akmedrese - 15th century school buildings with attractive stonework, now houses the archaeological museum
The mosque and tomb of the Mongol Ilkhanlı governor Sungurbey (1335) and the nearby Şah Mescidi mosque from 1413.
Hanım Câmii (1452) - Mosque from the time when the Karamanoğulları tribe were dominant here.
Paşa Câmii - 15th century Ottoman Empire mosque and....
Paşa Hamamı - the oldest Turkish bath in the town
Dışarı Câmii - 16th century Ottoman mosque
The bedesten - or covered bazaar, built in the early 17th century by Mehmed-paša Sokolović as a reward to the people of Niğde for their support for Selim Iduring the fraternal power struggle following the death of Suleyman the Magnificent.
Niğde museum displays artefacts dating back as far as 5000BC.
...and in the vicinity of the city there are....
Roman tombs in the village of Karatlı 40km from Niğde.
The 6th century church in the village of Andaval (today called Aktaş)
The Byzantine monastery at Gümüşler. The latter is carved into volcanic rock and contains chapels with frescoes painted onto the volcanic rock. The frescoes depict saints and a smiling Mary.
Underground cities, (safe havens cut deep into the soft volcanic ash that lines the valleys), typical of those in Cappadoccia, in Kavlaktepe and Konaklı.
The mineral and mud baths of Kocapınar.