Ihlara Valley

The Aksaray-Nevsehir road forks at the eleventh kilometer and takes the direction of the Ihlara Valley. The green valley of the dam lake Mamasin and the Melendiz stream ends up at the village of Selime where one finds oneself faced with the church which bears the name of the village and which looks like an apartment house. This church and the fairy chimneys, as they are called scattered all around bewilder us and take us to an entirely different world. The Selime Church is a three-aisled basilica. It has an apse covered with a semi-spherical dome and two lateral apses.

The naves are separated from each other by two columns and a pillar. On the northern wall is a chapel with a trough vault. In the barrel- vaulted lateral naves the black and orange frescoes date from the Byzantine times illustrate scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. The tomb of Selime to which the village owes its name is here. The Ihlara Valley is on the left of the road of 36 km coming from Selime and passing through Yaprakhisar amongst other villages.

This place formerly called ‘peristrema’ cut in hard rock reaching some 80 or 90 m of height, wherein grottoes and churches have been carved and which is crossed by the Melendiz Stream is situated between the Selime Village and Ihlara. The terrible aspect of rocks which appear from afar as a flat wall but which comprise in their bowels a world, apart is softened somewhat by the stream and the surrounding greenery. One descends 382 steps before attaining the river bed. There is no end to the grottoes and churches in this valley, therefore we shall be content to describe but a few, the most famous ones among them.