Central Anatolia Sights

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Ihlara Valley Review

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 149 meters (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 will take you 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 (1½ miles) 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.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Ihlara Vadi Turistik Tesisleri, 2 km (1 mi) from Ilhara village, 68500
  • Phone: No phone
  • Cost: 8 TL
  • Hours: Summer, daily 8–7; winter, daily 8–5 (last entry 45 minutes before closing)
  • Location: Ihlara Valley
Updated: 11-21-2013

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