The Ihlara Valley is an incredible gorge with a stunning river running right down the heart of the valley for 16 km within the volcanic rock. It is near the province of Aksaray but still considered part of the southern Cappadocia region. It’s a great spot for a relatively easy walk in peaceful, leafy nature. It’s also a hub for cave churches – you’ll come across many of them along the trail!
Ihlara Valley, often misspelled as “Ilhara Valley,” is near Mount Hasan and Mount Melendiz, two of the three volcanoes of Cappadocia. It has a depth of approximately 100 m and was formed by the Melendiz River thousands of years ago. It begins at the village of Ihlara and ends at Selime Monastery at the village of Selime after making 26 bends along 14 kilometers.
It is believed that the valley once housed more than 4,000 dwellings and 100 cave churches decorated with frescoes. Around 80,000 people once lived here.
It is very pleasant to walk through the valley by the vineyards, poplars, and pistachio trees to the soothing sound of the rushing water of the Melendiz River, and surrounded by rich wildlife such as lizards, frogs, butterflies, birds, and sometimes eagles, and mammals like lamb and sheep.
There are numerous cave churches in Ihlara Valley. Most of them display scenes that are not similar to those depicted in Cappadocian churches but instead are reminiscent of the early churches of Syria and the Coptic churches of Egypt. However, the texts in the Ihlara churches are unusually long.
Kazankaya Canyon is located near the town of Kazankaya, 10 kilometers from the district of Aydıncık near the city of Yozgat.
The canyon is 10 kilometers long. Alan Mountains, which are 1,363 meters high, are located south of the canyon, and Malbelen Hill sits in the west of the canyon. Çekerek River, a tributary of Yeşilırmak River, crosses through the canyon. On the canyon’s walls, there are ancient ruins, niches, and steps, as well as reliefs of the goddess Cybele, the Anatolian mother goddess, a symbol of abundance and fertility.
Other Canyons in the Central Anatolia Region
Hisarcık Derebahçe Canyon