"Rose Garden"                                                                              Population: 500ish

eskigul1Old name: Gelebeç

The ruins of Priene lie just west of the scattered modern settlement of Güllübahçe. With its whitewashed houses, the centre of the village, a 1.5km walk from Priene, is not unpleasant although there's nothing particular there to detain you. With time on your hands, though, you might want to strike uphill following the signs to the Aziz Nikolaos (St Nicholas) church in what some people call Eski Güllübahçe (Old Güllübahçe) and other Gelebeç. It's a steep 1.5km climb, best not done in the middle of a summer's day. 

Just as you may be starting to wonder what you're doing on the hillside the tarmac gives way to the same lovely old cobbestones as can be seen further west at Eski Doğanbey. Then the houses start to be of stone with red-tiled roofs. Finally you arrive, puffing, at the church.eskigul2

Built in 1821 with twin naves and apses, its size suggests a reasonably affluent community. The crude belltower, however, looks like a cheap later addition although it could just be that the effort of getting the building materials up the hill wore out the workmen before they started the actual work. 

Sadly, the church is in a shocking state of disrepair, stripped of every piece of reusable material and then left to fall prey to the taggers. A few pieces of non-figurative mural can be seen on the ceilings and upper walls but that's about it. 

Right next door, though, there's an oddity. The church grounds contained an ossuary in which old bones would be stored to make space for new graves. A hole has been bashed in the wall which means that you can peer in and see a great pile of femurs and  tibias although not, fortunately, any skulls. Of the room above the bonehouse only a few niches remain.

eskigul3If you keep walking uphill you will eventually come to the ruins of many old stone houses as well as to a village fountain, still running with water today. The view from on high is predictably impressive. Not surprisingly a few of the houses have been snapped up for restoration although the village is nowhere near as pretty as Eski Doğanbey. 

There's one cafe, Günbatımı (Sunset), about halfway up the hill. 

Transport info

Hourly buses link Söke to Priene passing through Güllübahçe. No buses make it up the hill though.eskigul4Few traces of the church murals survive


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