“ Sightseeing Type: Parks / Gardens „
The Ihlara Valley is a charmingly colourful valley in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. It is close to the funkily spelt town of Guzelyurt, I visited it about 4 years ago when I was hitchhiking around Turkey, I hadn't planned to go there but we were riding in a car when we came to a police checkpoint and after a small discussion between driver and the police, the police decided to flag down the next car and told them to take us where ever they were going! The slightly bemused French were probably thinking "Putan! not an Englishman!" but they soon warmed to us after chunnering in French to my French-Canadian co-hitchhiker!
It appeared they were going to the Ihlara Valley and they invited us along for the day, basically it's a 16km gorge which was created following a volcanic eruption, it's got a powerful stream flowing through it and greenery all around, on the right hand bank (if you are heading up the gorge from the town) are lots of Byzantine period churches and old houses built into the rocks from as early as the 6th century. Despite being graffittied and pillaged by the Greeks in particular still retain quite a lot of charm!
There were no stand-out buildings for me but just walking in the valley is very pleasant and there is no charge to accesss the buildings but it can get a tad claustrophobic due to the size of the buildings even if there are only a couple of people there. Saying that the following churches are considered to be in the best condition for viewing;
Agacalti, Purenliseki, Kokar, Yilanli and St. George
The valley was the first Christian settlement in the area and it acted as a natural hiding place from the Roman army. A very nice valley, you can drive to the individual churches or park your car at the start of it and walk around which may be more enjoyable but unbearable during the hot summer.
Getting there is a bit tricky and as far as I know there is no public transport running up there, if you have a car it's an easy 40km drive from Aksaray or if you are backpacking, hitchhiking is incredibly easy there!
A 16 km gorge cut into volcanic rock in the southern part of Cappadocia, Turkey is home to many churches and beautiful vegetation.