As most visitors to Cappadocia never get beyond the well-worn Nevşehir–Avanos–Ürgüp triangle, southern Cappadocia is far less charted and trampled. There’s a reason for its obscurity – the two major towns, Aksaray and Niğde, leave a lot to be desired as tourist centres, and much of the scenery is a depressing mixture of scrub or barren steppe. That said, the area does have its fascinations – most notably, the Ihlara valley, between Aksaray and Niğde, where the Melendiz River has carved a spectacular narrow ravine with almost vertical walls. Also easily accessible from Niğde is a small enclave of beautifully painted rock-cut churches belonging to the Eski Gümüşler monastery. South and east of Niğde, the spectacular limestone spires of the Aladağlar Mountains rear from the plateau, affording excellent trekking and climbing.
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