Explore South Central Anatolia
The majority of Cappadocia’s visitors never get beyond the well-worn Nevşehir–Avanos–Ürgüp triangle, leaving southern Cappadocia far less charted and trampled. There is 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, and these are worth a degree of discomfort to experience.
On the way to Niğde you can stop off at the underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı, located in a rain-washed basin between the central Anatolian plateau and the valleys of cones. Southwest of here is the Ihlara valley, where the Melendiz River, running between Aksaray and Niğde alongside the Melendiz mountain range, has created 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 up from the plateau, affording excellent trekking and climbing.Read More
The Ihlara valley
The Ihlara valley
A fertile gorge cut by a deep green river between red cliffs, the Ihlara valley is as beautiful a place as you could conceive. If you add some of the most attractive and interesting churches and rock-carved villages in the Cappadocia region, it’s easy to see why the valley is an increasingly popular destination. Most come only as part of a day-excursion from Ürgüp or Göreme, but to appreciate the valley at its best (early morning and early evening) try to spend a night in either Selime or Ihlara villages.