The Ihlara gorge

From Songali, we took minor roads in the direction of Güzelyurt and the Kizil Kilise, the Red Church, which was a beautiful drive. The Red Church, built in the 6th century, stands alone in the landscape and reminded us a bit of the churches in Armenia. The red stone in the green landscape was a beautiful contrast. From the tower, a Little Owl watched us walking around.

Kizil Kilise

We drove past Ihlara to stop at a natural hot spring close to the valley (38.2846, 34.2672) to have a bath in the 40 degrees hot water. The weather was a bit chilly, so the hot water was a nice treat that day.

Enjoying a hot spring

We found a great parking for the night in Selime next to the river, and the next morning we started to explore the famous Ihlara valley on foot. From Selime to Ihlara you walk up the river. First, the valley was wide, and we could watch locals tending to their fields or herding their animals. Later it turned into a gorge, where the walls were again used for dwellings and churches.

We had a 4-legged companion for half the way

Half way there was a village and locals had set up restaurants along and in the river. A good stop for a drink before we continued.

In the upper part of the valley, there were more tourists and on both sides you can climb up to numerous churches. We didn’t go to all of them, but visited the ones on the left side of the river. After days of exploring cave churches, we were not that enthusiastic any more to find every church in the valley. But nevertheless, we noticed interesting decorations and frescos we hadn’t seen before.

Last view into the valley

After 4 hours of hiking, we left the river in Selime and had a great view of the snow covered mountains. We just wondered how we would get home now. There are buses, but no bus stops with timetables, so we had no idea when and where a bus would leave. The passing cars were all full of people, so hitch-hiking seamed pointless. In the end, we asked in a bar, where old men were sitting around a table. We immediately got a ride to a good price.

Back in Selime, we gathered our last energy and visited the cathedral, which was a little climb up to the top, but one of the most interesting monasteries built into rocks we had visited so far.

Selime cathedral
Kitchen with oven and chimney
Parking for the Night @ Selime

We spent another night at the river, before we left to travel further westwards.

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