The Ihlara Valley (also Peristrema Valley, Ihlara Vadisi Turkish ) is a 15km long and up to 150 m deep canyon in the southwestern Turkish region of Cappadocia in the district Güzelyurt Aksaray Province. In the valley are about 50 rock-hewn churches and numerous Höhlenbauten.

Formation and location

The canyon was dug in prehistoric times from Melendiz Su. It lies between the villages of Ihlara and Selime in the southeast to the northwest. At the northern end of the village of Ihlara a staircase with 400 steps leads almost 100 m deep in the canyon. The valley was the settlement area since the 7th century Byzantine monks, their homes and churches dug into the tuff, which was created by the eruption of Hasan Dagi. The former Greek name Peristrema ( around wound ) of the place Belisarma, which is about half the distance of Ihlara after Selime, had its name to the valley.


The churches in Peristrema valley can be divided into two groups. The first are the churches around the place Ihlara that are equipped with paintings of a local Cappadocian direction, having the eastern influences from Persia and Syria. They are mostly incurred in vorikonoklastischer time, but were fitted at a later date with new paintings. The other group, the place Belisarma located is primarily decorated in the Byzantine style of the 10th and 11th centuries.

The first group includes, among others,

  • The Ağaçaltı Kilisesi is likely to see ( church under the tree ), a cross-shaped cut into the rock church from the 7th century in the dome of an Ascension scene. This vorikonoklastische representation has survived the time of the iconoclastic controversy.
  • The Yılanlı Kilise ( Snake church ), also a cross-domed church with striking long apse. In the narthex there are hell scenes, which are dated to the 9th century, including four unclothed sinners that are entwined with snake-like monsters. From this figure occurs because the name of the church.
  • The Sümbüllü Kilise ( Hyacinth Church ), probably from the 10th century. The church with a T-shaped floor plan shows the transition to the Byzantine style. Your murals show among other things the Emperor Constantine and his wife Helena. The structured, monumental outside, however, shows oriental influence.

The second group includes

  • The Direkli Kilise ( pillar church). The three-aisled domed cruciform church was established in the 10th century. The vault is supported by four tall pillars, which are decorated with portraits of saints. One of the few inscriptions found in the valley reported on the foundation of the church at the time of the Byzantine emperor Basil II, who reigned 976-1025.
  • The Karagedik Kilisesi ( Church with the black Breach), one built of brick and trachyte cross-domed church with four pillars dating from the 11th century, however, is severely damaged and has only boast a few faded painting residues.
  • The Kırkdamaltı Kilisesi ( church under 40 roofs or St. George's Church ), which can be dated by an inscription to the time 1283-1295. This makes it the last known witness of Christian architecture in the Ihlara Valley to the recommencement of the church building by resident here Greeks in the 19th century. In addition to representations of Saint George is one of her paintings Byzantine consul Basileos Giagupes, the Emir was also in Seljuk dress with turban and his wife Tamar, a Georgian princess. The accompanying inscription mentions both the Seljuk Sultan Masud II and the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II, which is regarded as evidence that at this time in Cappadocia peaceful coexistence of Christians and Muslims was possible.

In the Archaeological Museum Nigde the mummies of a woman and four children are shown that were found there, according to the inscription in the Ihlara Valley and date from the 10th century.