The ruined church of Güllübahçe: urbex in Turkey!

We have this thing with abandoned buildings. That meant that we couldn’t skip a visit to the ruined church of Güllübahçe while on the way to Priene and Eski Doğanbey. The Aziz Nikolaos or Saint Nicholas church was built by the Greeks in 1821 on top of the remains of an older church. Its peaceful location high up in the village of Güllübahçe offers splendid views of the valley below, all the way to Lake Bafa at the far end of the horizon. The church ruins consist of two buildings, the church itself and an ossuary or charnel house located in the church’ gardens. A fascinating sight for urbex and non-urbex lovers alike!

Front Of The Church With The Bell Tower On The Narthex

Front Of The Church With The Bell Tower On The Narthex

It Must Have Been Majestic!

It Must Have Been Majestic!

A beautiful ruined church: Aziz Nikolaos in Güllübahçe

A lot of places in Turkey show the beauty of decay. Take Kayaköy near Fethiye, for example, which is a complete ghost village, and a great place to walk around in. The Aziz Nikolaos church in Güllübahçe may be just a church, but this ruined church is worth a small detour. The warning sign outside the church’ garden walls say it is forbidden and dangerous to enter the church, but the graffiti art everywhere shows that we’re not the first ones entering this place.

Peeping Through A Window

Peeping Through A Window

The church with two apses and two naves has a typical Greek bell tower on the front narthex. The garden is lovely and quiet and reveals a surprise when we spot some bones in a window opening of a separate building.

Outside The Church' Walls

Outside The Church’ Walls

At The Side Of The Church

At The Side Of The Church

Detailed ceiling paintings in vivid colors

Apart from the graffiti, you’ll get to enjoy plenty of well-preserved ceiling paintings. The contrast of the ruined church building, with debris all over the place and the delicate paintings, is striking. It’s not too difficult to imagine this church must have been beautiful before it fell to pieces. There have been talks about restoring the building, but the municipality lacks the resources for this huge undertaking. Even so, one can only hope the church will at least keep standing, waiting for more people to come and admire its undoubtedly once glorious interior.

Look At Those Domed Ceilings!

Look At Those Domed Ceilings!

Vivid Colors

Vivid Colors

A charnel house with human bones in it

As we were walking around the church gardens, we noticed some bones lying in the window opening of a separate building. Well, at least we thought those were bones. Upon closer inspection, we were proven right. The building was a charnel house or ossuary. This building on two levels was used to preserve human bones after they had been unearthed when digging new graves. The bones were kept on the lower level, while the upper level with some niches displayed sacred relics.

Both Levels Of The Charnel House With Plenty Of Bones Left Behind

Both Levels Of The Charnel House With Plenty Of Bones Left Behind

Human Bones In The Window Opening Of The Ossuary

Human Bones In The Window Opening Of The Ossuary

How to get to Aziz Nikolaos church in Güllübahçe

Güllübahçe is a small and pretty Turkish village between Söke and Priene where you’ll also find restaurants and even a bed for the night. You reach Güllübahçe by car following direction Söke after leaving the İzmir-Aydın main road. Drive on to Güllübahçe by following the brown road signs to Priene. Shortly after entering the village, just past the small bridge, you’ll notice a sign to the ruined church of Aziz Nikolaos on your left-hand side. If you’re relying on public transport, check public transport to Güllübahçe options here. This is a perfect day trip from Kuşadası, Didim, or Bodrum. Combine it with lovely Eski Doğanbey and a visit to Priene.

Woud you like to visit the area with a local guide? It’s great way to have a guided tour while enjoying a more personal aproach. Check out local guides for tours to Priene and surroundings here.

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Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

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How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

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Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

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