Ihlara Valley has unique harmony of history and nature
In the central Anatolian province of Aksaray’s Güzelyurt district, the Ihlara Valley is called the “pearl of Cappadocia.”
The valley receives 500,000 local and foreign tourists in the fall and winter. It draws highest interest from Far Eastern countries, such as Malaysia, Japan, China and Thailand in the fall and winter, and European, Arab and South American tourists in the winter.
Visitors who arrive in Ihlara on their own or via tour operators, go down 382 steps of stairs to see the valley’s stunning landscape.
History and nature enthusiasts are welcomed by the sound of water rising from the Melendiz Stream and have a chance to hike among colorful trees on three routes 3.5, 7 and 14 kilometers long on both sides of the river.
Because it was a religious center in the early periods of Christianity, there are many churches, chapels and monasteries carved along the road in the valley. When they are tired from hiking, visitors can take a break in the Belisırma village to eat and drink in the gazebo on the Melendiz Stream.
After finishing their seven-kilometer hike in Belisırma, visitors can take tour busses back or continue walking to the Selime district and see the Selime Cathedral, where the first vocal ritual was held by Christians 1,700 years ago.
Since there is no hiking path to the top of the cathedral, visitors can reach it by following the green signs. Once there, they can rest and take photos.
On their way back from the cathedral, visitors can follow red signs and end their 14-kilometer hike.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Aksaray Culture and Tourism Director Mustafa Doğan said the Ihlara Valley was among the most important hiking routes in the Cappadocia region.
“The Ihlara Valley is one of the most important tourism spots visited by nearly half a million people every year. They can follow the hiking routes and see the natural beauty in the region. They can walk on routes 3.5, 7 and 14-kilometers long. There are places for tourists to rest and have tea in the valley. They should not go back up the stairs right away. We recommend all our visitors to take a hike. A tour like this is the best way to better get to know the Ihlara Valley,” said Doğan.
Agust Rush, a tourist from Brazil, said she found the Ihlara Valley very beautiful.
“This is one of the most beautiful places in Cappadocia. There are many churches and hiking routes. The landscape is stunning. We enjoyed our hike a lot. I invite everyone to see the beauty here,” she said.