The Ihlara Valley, formerly known as Peristremma in historical sources, is one of the rare areas where nature, history, art, and culture intersect with its vegetation, churches, and chapels.
Located within the district of Güzelyurt in the province of Aksaray/Konya, Ihlara Valley holds an important place among the canyons of the world. With a length of 18 kilometers, an average depth of 150 meters, and a width of 200 meters, Ihlara Valley contains thousands of living spaces and stands out from other canyons as the largest canyon in the world where people lived in the past.
The Melendiz River, which shapes Ihlara Valley and gives life to the valley, is the main source of life here. Hundreds of churches and rock-carved spaces, formed by the easily-carved rocks surrounding the valley, have made the valley one of the world's most important cultural and civilization centers.
Another striking feature of Ihlara Valley is its nature. A dense strip of greenery consisting of vineyards and gardens lies along the water's edge at the bottom of the steep, deep and narrow valley. It's as if nature has hidden inside the valley. The surrounding area of the valley is dominated by sparse vegetation with a steppe-like appearance. As you reach the slopes of the valley, you will see that a rich and green piece of nature is hidden inside the valley. This hidden aspect has also determined the special place of the valley. Unlike the terrestrial climate in the region, a climate close to the Mediterranean climate can be seen on the valley floor. With this feature, the valley floor is a natural microclimate area. As a result, a wide variety of plants grow on the valley floor, primarily including pistachio trees.
The frescoed churches carved into the rocks in Ihlara Valley have survived to this day as an unparalleled treasure of history. These frescoed churches and settlements, created by the easy excavation of rocks from the early years of Christianity, are located within Ihlara Valley, which extends from Ihlara to Selime for 14 kilometers. They have been preserved as an invaluable cultural heritage. The earliest examples of these churches in Ihlara Valley, where nature and history are intertwined in the middle of the Kapadokya River (Patamos Kapadokus) in ancient times, can be traced back to the 4th century AD. The painting technique of the churches can be divided into two parts. The churches around Ihlara exhibit the characteristics known as the "Cappadocia Type". Examples of these are the Eğritaş, Ağaçaltı, Kokar, Pürenliseki, and Yılanlı Churches. Those in the Belisırma section are decorated with "Byzantine Type" paintings.