Monday, 19 April 2010

Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey

The Ihlara valley is a stunning gorge cut in the volcanic rock of the Cappadocian plateau by a small river that runs through the centre. The valley is both breathtakingly beautiful and historically fascinating. Inhabited by monks from the 4th to the 14th centuries the valley is littered with ancient rock cut Byzantium churches and hermit holes. If you like walking and are interested in nature and history then The Ihlara valley is a must to add to your itinerary, the main route meanders along the
lightly wooded valley floor next to the river bed, as you make your way along there are signs on either side pointing to different rock cut churches you can explore, most of which are cut into the face of the valley side and are a bit of scrabble to reach. Many of the churches have frescoes some in very good condition some defaced, the churches vary greatly in condition there are over 60 in the valley, the most popular ones are:

Direkli Kilise (Column church)
Agacalti Kilise (Under tree church)
Yilanli Kilise (Snake church)
Named after a fresco featuring a snake with three heads.
Sümbüllü Kilise (Hyacinth church) Part of a monastry complex with a living area, named after the hyacinths outside.
Pürenli seki Kilise (Pine needle terrace church)
Kokar Kilise (Smelly church)
Karagedik Kilise (Black collar church)
Kirk damalti Kilise ( Forty sons in law church)
Features a fresco of St George slaying the dragon, in this case represented by a three headed snake.
Ala Kilise (Mottled church)
Kemerli Kilise (Archway Church)
Egritas Kilise (Crooked stone church)

The valley is 14km long and runs from Ihlara village to Selime village, if you are coming by car the Belisirma village in the middle of the valley has a car park and a tourist information centre. Also there are some tea houses serving light refreshments on wooden platforms that sit in the middle of the river offering a nice place to relax and watch the wildlife during your visit. The valley also supports some cottage industries and whilst there we saw some local boys harvesting the walnut trees, there are also pistachio trees and vineyards.

Getting There

From Goreme or Urgup it will take just over two hours or forty five minutes from Aksaray, like most of these attractions in Cappadocia the most popular way to visit is with an organised day trip, however for those of you feeling a little more adventurous it can be found by following the signposts from the main roads between Nevsehir and Aksaray or Nevsehir and Nidge. Remember to buy a map of the area before coming to Cappadocia as the local tourist maps are not to scale and can be a little confusing, and it is difficult to find standard maps outside of major cities in Turkey.
When we visited the Ihlara valley we got up early drove along the Nevsehir to Aksaray road so we could stop at the Agzikkarahan Caravanseri which was rather irritatingly closed, then took the road to Ihlara valley stopped for luch and spent about three and a half hours exploring the valley. After this we continued to visit the underground cities at Derinkuyu then Kaymakli which too us on a round trip back to our hotel at Urgup arriving back at sunset.

Thomson - Special Offers

Around Ihlara Valley

Derinkuyu underground city


Kaymakli underground city




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