Nigde’s dusty streets swarm with university students, strolling arm in arm. Islamic architecture dominates the town’s backdrop of restaurants, bookstores, and pastry shops. Nigde comes alive every Thursday on market day, when fruits and vegetables are sold in the shadows of Selçuk mosques. Architecture aside, this simple lifestyle is none too appealing for tourists, most of whom skip the city entirely and head straight to the nearby Eski Gumeşler Monastery.
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Nigde’s otogar, on Emin Erişeğil Cad., provides connections to: Adana (3hr., 7 per day 10am-lam, $7); Aksaray (1hr., every hr. 7:30am- 7:30pm, $3); Ankara (5hr., every hr. 7:30am-7:30pm, $9); Antalya (10hr.; 7:30, 9:30pm; $14); Erzurum (12hr.; 6, 9:30pm; $16); Istanbul (11hr.; 9:30am, 7, 7:30pm; $16); İzmir (12hr.; 7,9pm; $16); Kayseri (2hr., every hr. 8am-11pm, $3); Konya (3hr.; 9:30am, 1:30pm; $8); Mersin (3hr., frequent 9am-2:30am, $6); Nevşehir (1hr., every hr. 8am-6pm, $2); Trabzon (13hr.; 5:30, 9:30pm; $17).
ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Turning right out of the otogar leads to Bankalar Cad., named for its abundance of banks and ATMs. Take a left to reach Atatürk Meydanı, the town’s central square, marked by a statue and a government building. From here, head east on İstasyon Cad. past banks and shops to the Thursday market. The tourist information office is on the third floor of the large building across the street from the Devlet Hastanesi (government hospital). If you have trouble finding it, one of the locals should be able to direct you. The modern hospital (232 22 20, 232 22 21, 232 22 22, or 232 22 23), two blocks west of the square, offers the services of several Anglophone doctors. Internet access is available at the smoky Cafe Internet Klas-2, across from the Ak Medrese. (213 35 53 or 233 22 62. $1.60 per 2hr.) The PTT, about 100m down the road from Atatürk Meydanı offers stamps, telegraph, and fax sendees. (Open M-F 8:30am- 12:30pm and l:30-5:30pm.)
Postal code: 51100.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD
From ritzy to ramshackle, Nigde’s accommodations run the entire comfort gamut. Across the town center from the Atatürk statue is the 3-star Hotel Evim many of Nigde’s best deals in accommodations are located in the area behind it. Several two star hotels offer reasonable rates. Try Otel Şahin , where silky blue bedspreads soothe tired backs and spacious rooms come with phone and TV. (232 09 51; fax 232 09 53. Breakfast included. Singles $10; doubles $20.) Otel Nahita , around the comer, has 30 rooms with phones and balconies, plus a disco bar that fills with local students on week¬ends. (232 53 66; singles $8; doubles $12. Bar cover $1.60, includes one drink.) Hotel Murat O, across from the Alaeddin Camii clock tower, has clean rooms with shower and TV. (Singles $7; doubles $12; rooms without shower or TV $5.)
Nigde doesn’t have a remarkable culinary arsenal. Bor Cad. , running south of Atatürk Meydanı, is littered with small lokantas, dominated by the Sultan “fast- food” chain. Flashy white decor sparkles inside local favorite Saruhan (232 21 72), where suspiciously slimming mirrors will whet your appetite for their incredible döner, kebap, and pide ($2-4). To see the Bohemian side of Anatolia, check out the student-frequented cafes and okey salons near the end of Bor Cad.
For a university town of 60,000, Nigde’s nightlife is lacking. The tragically hip meet at Cafe Şamdan, one block down from the old Bor Garaj on the right, which runs an esoteric category of its own: a “Fast Food, Breakfast, and Chips Salon.” Live music (from Turkish folk to Western pop) entertains the cafe’s college crowd.
Nigde’s most compelling sight is actually 9km from the city. Dolmuş run between Nigde’s otogar and Gümüşler (15min., $.40). The Eski Gümüşler Monastery is one of Cappadocia’s larger and better-preserved tufa earned structures. Discovered in 1963, the monastery was active in the middle Byzantine era and contains some of the best-preserved frescoes dating back to the 10- 12th centuries AD. The three apses depict scenes from the life of Jesus, while the main church features a rare mosaic of a smiling Virgin Mary. Crypts and storage pits dot the courtyard like moon craters, while the upper chambers and the caves outside the monastery make for some fun exploring. Open 8am-noon, 1:30-0:30pm. $2.
Back in town, the Alaeddin Camii, built by the Selcuks in 1223, sils alop a hill near the clock tower. One local story about the mosque claims that one of the architects, sick with unrequited love, designed the eastern portal so that the morning summer light creates the outline of a girl’s crowned head. Trying to see the head is likely to stram your imagination; recuperate at the çay garden next door.
While in Nigde, check out the Süngür Bey Camii, south of the Alaeddin Camii. The mosque has been modified by so many different rulers over the centuries that it has come to possess elements of several architectural styles. The Ak Medrese, a block away, is worth visiting, if you have time. Built in 1409, this Selcuk-style medrese earns its name from the white marble inscriptions above the portal (ak means “white”). Nigde’s Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum was closed for renovations at the time of publication, but is expected to reopen by fall 2002.