Ihlara Valley is a fantastic canyon with a depth of about 100 meters and about 10 km. length that was formed by the volcanic activity from Mount Hasan and erosion by the Melendiz River hundred thousands of years ago. One of the best side trips from Cappadocia.
What to See?
Ihlara Valley is not only a natural beauty, but also a rocky settlement area that hosted an extreme monastery life between 4th to 13th centuries D.C. and housed more than four thousand dwellings and a hundred hidden cave churches decorated with frescoes and houses lining the gorge.
There is a parking area and a shop at the entrance of the Ihlara Valley. You should buy all your needs before you enter to the valley as there is no shop in the valley. When you see the valley from above, you’ll be surprised with the stairs that you need to descend. There is no elevator and while you descend, you’ll ask yourself that “how much stairs left” 🙂 But as you’ll experience, it will be a great exercise in the company of great beauties of the valley.
When you descend to the valley, you’ll have about 4 km. of hiking track in the company of the Melendiz River dividing the valley. The river is not deep so that you may easily pass from one side to another.
While you hike, you’ll see the famous dwellings, hidden cave churches decorated with frescoes and houses located at the hills in different altitudes. Some of them are really located on high altitude and you’ll need to climb the stairs through them (especially the churches) if you want to see what’s inside, and of course descend back 🙂 But all those will be really very exciting and fantastic.
After you stroll or hike about 3,5 km. along the river, you’ll see the famous Belisirma village (a typical Anatolian village) and will have a chance to have a lunch break at a local restaurant nearby the river.
And than if you feel like you can hike for about 6 km. more (many travelers turn back from the Belisirma village, following the same track they climb to the Ihlara Valley entrance and end their tour as their car parked there), you may have chance to visit the Yaprakhisar village and see stunning views of the conical fairy chimneys and 1 km. after you may see the famous Selime Monastery that was one of the biggest and most fascinating religious settlements in Cappadocia.
The Monastery was carved into the rock by monks in the 13th century. If you visit Ihlara Valley via excursion or tour company, the tour bus takes you from Yaprakhisar-Selime, so you will not have go back to the entrance of the Ihlara Valley.
A great day out at the Ihlara Valley is really a great experience for nature, history and hiking lovers. And one of the best things to do in Cappadocia.
Also note that, even it is a summer day, there may be a short but heavy rain so it is recommended to take a raincoat or small umbrella with you and of course take your outdoor hiking shoes.
Visiting Hours & Admissions
The museum is open between 08:00 to 19:00 (17:00 in winter season)
Entrance Fee: 30 TL
How to Get to Ihlara Valley?
Ihlara Valley is located about 85 km. from Goreme. It seems very far away from Cappadocia but travelers are highly recommended to arrange a day and make a visit to the Ihlara Valley. A really must visit sight in Cappadocia.
Best Access: Via your private/rented car or via excursion/daily tour company
Address: Guzelyurt, Aksaray, Turkey
Tel: +90 (382) 213 24 74, +90 (382) 212 46 88