Fodor's Expert Review Ihlara Valley

Ihlara Valley Religious Building/Site/Shrine Fodor's Choice

The landscape changes dramatically when you head south through Cappadocia toward Ihlara: the dusty plains turn rich with vegetation, and the Melendiz River carves a rift into the sheer tufa cliffs, which rise up to 490 feet. If you can afford spend a day here, it can be refreshing to hike through the beautiful, lush valley and explore some of the approximately 100 churches hidden in nooks above the river.

There are four entrances to the 14-km-long (8½-mile-long) valley: from Selime at the north end, from Belisırma or the Ihlara Vadisi Turistik Tesisleri (Ihlara Valley Touristic Facilities) at points along the valley, and from Ihlara village at the south end. Walking the entire valley takes the better part of a day, but if you just want to get a taste of it, the most interesting part is the middle section. From the Ihlara Vadisi Turistik Tesisleri, you'll have to walk down nearly 400 wooden steps to reach the valley floor. A cluster of fresco-decorated churches are within walking... READ MORE

The landscape changes dramatically when you head south through Cappadocia toward Ihlara: the dusty plains turn rich with vegetation, and the Melendiz River carves a rift into the sheer tufa cliffs, which rise up to 490 feet. If you can afford spend a day here, it can be refreshing to hike through the beautiful, lush valley and explore some of the approximately 100 churches hidden in nooks above the river.

There are four entrances to the 14-km-long (8½-mile-long) valley: from Selime at the north end, from Belisırma or the Ihlara Vadisi Turistik Tesisleri (Ihlara Valley Touristic Facilities) at points along the valley, and from Ihlara village at the south end. Walking the entire valley takes the better part of a day, but if you just want to get a taste of it, the most interesting part is the middle section. From the Ihlara Vadisi Turistik Tesisleri, you'll have to walk down nearly 400 wooden steps to reach the valley floor. A cluster of fresco-decorated churches are within walking distance of one another, including the Ağaçaltı (Under-a-Tree) church, Kokar (Fragrant) church, Yılanlı (Serpent) church, and the Church of St. George.

Belisırma village, about 2 km (1 mile) north of the Ihlara Vadisi Turistik Tesisleri and roughly a three-hour walk from either end of the valley, has a handful of scenic restaurants, some of which have open-air cabanas built on stilts over the river—an idyllic place for a simple meal, accompanied by the relaxing sound of running water.

Just outside the north end of the valley, Selime Monastery (entrance with the same ticket as for Ihlara) is a huge rock-cut complex with a chapel, two levels of rooms, and lots of nooks and crannies. It's a steep climb to get up there—involving rock-cut steps, a short tunnel, and some narrow grooves carved out of the rock—but it's worth it for the views alone.

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Religious Building/Site/Shrine Canyon Fodor's Choice

Quick Facts

Aksaray  68500, Turkey

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: 10 TL, Summer, daily 8–7; winter, daily 8–5; last entry 45 mins before closing

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