In Greek legend, the city was first called Thoana because Thoas, a Thracian king, was its founder (Arrian, Periplus Ponti Euxini, vi); it was in Cappadocia, at the foot of the Taurus Mountains and near the Cilician Gates (Strabo, XII, 537; XIII, 587).
Xenophon mentions it in his book Anabasis, under the name of Dana, as a large and prosperous city. The surrounding plain was known after it as Tyanitis.
It is the reputed birthplace of the celebrated philosopher (and reputed saint, god, or magician) Apollonius of Tyana in the first century AD. Ovid (Metamorphoses VIII) places the tale of Baucis and Philemon in the vicinity.
According to Strabo the city was known also as "Eusebeia at the Taurus". Under Roman Emperor Caracalla, the city became Antoniana colonia Tyana. After having sided with Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, it was captured by Aurelian in 272, who would not allow his soldiers to sack it, allegedly because Apollonius appeared to him, pleading for its safety.
In 372, Emperor Valens split the province of Cappadocia in two, and Tyana became the capital and metropolis of Cappadocia Secunda. In Late Antiquity, the city was also known as Christoupolis (Greek: Χριστούπολις, "city of Christ").
Following the Muslim conquests and the establishment of the frontier between the Byzantine Empire and the Caliphate along the Taurus Mountains, Tyana became important as a military base due to its strategic position on the road to Cilicia and Syria via the Cilician Gates, which lie some 30 km to the south. Consequently, the city was frequently targeted by Muslim raids. The city was first sacked by the Umayyads after a long siege in 708, and remained deserted for some time before being rebuilt. It was then occupied by the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid in 806. Harun began converting the city into a military base and even erected a mosque there, but evacuated it after the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros I bought a peace.
The city was again taken and razed by the Abbasids under Al-Abbas ibn al-Ma'mun in 831. Abbas rebuilt the site three years later as an Abbasid military colony in preparation for Caliph al-Ma'mun's planned conquest of Byzantium, but after Ma'mun's sudden death in August 833 the campaign was abandoned by his successor al-Mu'tasim and the half-rebuilt city was razed again.
The city fell into decline after 933, as the Arab threat receded. The ruins of Tyana are at modern Kemerhisar, three miles south of Niğde; there are remains of a Roman aqueduct and of cave cemeteries and sepulchral grottoes.
As noted, in 372 Emperor Valens created the province of Cappadocia Secunda, of which Tyana became the metropolis. This aroused a violent controversy between Anthimus, Bishop of Tyana, and St. Basil of Caesarea, each of whom wished to have as many suffragan sees as possible. About 640 Tyana had three, and it was the same in the tenth century (Heinrich Gelzer, "Ungedruckte ... Texte der Notitiae episcopatum", 538, 554).
Le Quien mentions 28 bishops of Tyana, among whom were:
In May 1359, Tyana still had a metropolitan (Mikelosich and Müller, "Acta patriarchatus Constantinopolitani", I, 505); in 1360 the metropolitan of Caesarea secured the administration of it (op. cit., 537). Thenceforth the see was titular.