This valley is situated 40km from Aksaray and can be
reached making a turn at the 11th km of the Aksaray-Nevsehir
The canyon was created by the cracking and collapsing
which occurred as a result of basalt and andesite lava
from Mt. Hasandags eruption. The Melendiz river
found its way through these cracks, eroding the canyon
bed and helping to form canyon we see today. The
Melendiz river used to be called "Potamus
Kapadukus"meaning the River of Cappadocia.
The 14km long, 100
-150m high valley begins at Ihlara and ends at Selime. There are numerous
dwellings, churches and graves built into the valley walls, some of which are
connected by tunnels and corridors.
The valley proved to be an ideal place for the seclusion
and worship of monks, and a hideaway and defense area
for people during times of invasion.
The decorations in the
churches can be dated to various times from the 6th to the 13th centuries, and
the churches can be classified into two groups. The churches near to
Ihlara display frescoes with oriental influence. Those nearer to Belisirma
display Byzantine type decorations.
Very few Byzantine inscriptions in this area can be read.
Above a 13th century fresco in the church of St. George
(Kirkdamatl), the names of Seljuk Sultan Mesud II (1282
- 1305) and the Byzantine Emperor Andronicos II are
inscribed. This is proof of the tolerance of the
Seljuk rulers. The best preserved frescos are to be
found in the churches of Agacalti, Purenliseki, Kokar,
Yilanli and Kirkdamatli