Ihlara valley: As picturesque as it gets

ANADOLU AGENCY
AKSARAY
Published
The natural rock formations of the Ihlara Valley offers a unique hiking and climbing experience to nature and adventure lovers.
The natural rock formations of the Ihlara Valley offers a unique hiking and climbing experience to nature and adventure lovers.

Ihlara Valley, which is among the largest canyons in the world and resembles an open-air museum with its historic and natural beauty, attracts visitors looking for walking trails and unique view

The valley, which is located in the borders of Güzelyurt district in Aksaray province and described as "the pearl of Cappadocia," takes its visitors on a journey through both history and nature. Hosting nearly 500,000 local and foreign tourists per year, the valley generally gets visitors from residents of the Far East such as Malaysia, Japan, China, and Thailand during the autumn and winter. During the spring and summer mostly European, Arabic and South American tourists visit the region.

Visitors who come to Ihlara on their own or with tour companies go down into the valley accompanied by a unique view on a staircase that has 382 steps. Nature and history lovers are also fond of the Melendiz Stream in the valley. They have an opportunity to go trekking on three routes which are located on both sides of the stream among colorful wildflowers and trees.

Visitors can also explore many churches, chapels, and monasteries which were carved from rocks. This is because Ihlara was a religious center at the dawn of Christianity. If they feel like having a rest after their trek, visitors can also eat in Belisırma Village, which is a rest stop, and relax while sipping tea.

After completing their seven-kilometer hike in Belisırma, nature lovers can see the Selime Cathedral, where the first rite was performed by Christians nearly 1,700 years ago. Many also visit the town of Selime with the tour buses that wait for them at the end of their journey or follow on the area 's walking trails.

As there is no obvious route to the top of the cathedral, visitors climb by following green arrows. At the top, where they reach after passing through rock-carved spots, they can immortalize the unique moment with their cameras, their backdrop a sky where hundreds of fairy chimneys meet.

The way down from the cathedral's summit is marked with red arrows. After visitors leave, they usually make their way out by car.

Aksaray Director of Culture and Tourism Mustafa Doğan stated that the Ihlara Valley is one of the most important walking trails in Cappadocia. Noting people who visit the valley get to be alone with natural and historical beauties, Doğan continued: "Ihlara Valley, which hosts nearly a half million people every year, is one of the most important tourist attractions. Visitors can see natural beauties, following the walking trails in the valley. They can walk the routes, which are three, five, seven or 14 kilometers long. The valley makes the hiking experience more enjoyable for visitors as it is a historical place and hosts natural beauties. There are some spots where people can stop and have a rest and enjoy some tea. Those who go down the valley should not think to go back quickly. We recommend all visitors to walk. It is the best way to observe and understand the Ihlara Valley."

Agust Rush, one of the tourists who joined the walk in Ihlara, said that he came from Brazil and liked the valley very much. "This place is one of the most beautiful regions in Cappadocia. It has many walking trails and churches. There is a perfect nature here. The trekking was very joyous. I invite everyone to see the beauty here," Rush reported.

Yasemin Acar also mentioned that she lives in Kayseri province and visited the valley, which she appreciates very much. Acar gushed, "There are beautiful walking trails and an atmosphere that relaxes people in the valley. The walking trails are better due to the restoration work that was conducted here. We enjoy it."

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