Discovering the Ihlara Valley in Cappadocia is like finding an oasis in the desert. Nothing in the surrounding lets you imagine what lies ahead of you and when you finally reach the edge of the deep valley, the view of the green lush vegetation, down below, is magical…
After having spent a few days in Cappadocia, and before heading to Pamukkale, we followed the recommendation of our hotel manager and stopped by the Ihlara Valley. And what an excellent surprise!
The Ihlara Valley is like a canyon, a huge crack on the Earth surface. It’s approximatively 16 kilometers (10 miles) long and 100m deep. The Melendez River that flows through the valley has enable life to grow and thrive.
It is a fantastic place to spend the day. So peaceful, so relaxing and quiet. There aren’t many tourists and guided groups disappear quickly as they soon leave for their next destination. And despite the heat, it’s easy to find a little hidden place to relax by the river and have a little nap 😉
On the way to Ihlara
The first view of the valley!
All is well indicated but it cracked me up that the below map is the wrong way!!
Super easy hiking on nice paths which enable you to look up and admire the view!
Having lunch on the river is so perfectly charming
The welcoming party is adorable. They are also in charge of cleaning and entertainment!
Time to great some other guests!
Pleeeasssse feed us! We are so nice and so cute!
360 stairs to go down which means 360 stairs to go back up….
The Ihlara valley was one of the first settlement of Christians escaping from Roman soldiers and the remains of around 60 Byzantine churches, chapels, monasteries and hermits’ caves, dating from the 11th to 13th centuries, can still be seen.
Of course, we visited all the churches found along the way. How many pictures did I take? 0!! Wait what?? I know!! I didn’t realize it back then, but I guess I had enough from the previous days… Or maybe I was simply taken by the beauty of the valley…
The Technical bits:
The valley begins at the Ihlara village and ends at the Selime Monastery. There are 4 entrances, one at each end, one about 2 kilometers after Ihlara (the one we chose), and one in Belisirma.
The entrance we chose is the one with the visitor center which includes a car park, restaurant, toilets, souvenir shop, stairs and … ticket booth! (I’m not sure if the other access points to the valley are free or not).
More info: www.goreme.com
Best time of the year to visit? Most likely spring to be able to admire the contrast between the green vegetation and the orange colors of the rocks.
I wouldn’t recommend eating at the restaurant of the visitor center, having lunch on the river is sooo much more fun!
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