MONASTERY VALLEY HIKE

by thewokabout_y6do1n
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Spend a half day hiking and exploring the willow forest, churches, cave dwellings of this pretty valley. Sadly bypassed for the larger Ilhara by most tourists but its a more narrower valley between dramatic rock croppings therefore a quieter, intimate setting. Unfortunately most of the sighs here show erosion, earthquake damage and lack of maintenance by the government.

View of IlharaValley from Underground City No. 2’s upper levels

The underground city next to the ticketing office is marked as no. 2 – it’s tiny compared to Denrikuyu but like everything else here, charming. The friendly official Turkish guides don’t speak English but will show you the safest way to climb the tunnels and narrow, vertical entryway passages. The photo above is the upper level of the “city”, the hollows in the walls are dovecotes. Below left, living quarters on the lower level. Below middle, ceiling of the upper terrace.Below right, cramped passageways to defend from invaders.

Also next to the ticketing office is the 4th century St. Gregorios Church/Church of St Gregory of Nazianzus. Its now known as the Mosque Church as it was converted to a mosque after the Greeks were forced out of Turkey 1924. St. Gregory, one of Cappadocia’s the three founding fathers. The church has been converted into mosque, you are allowed to visit but not step on the carpeted areas.

Also, feel free to visit the grungy cistern where the healing water is still believed to have effect.

A few minutes walk across the road and up a slope is Sivisli / St Anargirios Church. The Greek church is completely carved out of stone. Pilgrims especially the sick, believed in its healing powers, coming to pray overnight until the sun rose on November 1.

Sivisli, carveout of the rock face
Vandalized painting of Christ and the Disciples in domed ceiling of Sivisli

Other significant sites located here have Roman and Byzantium features-
Koc Church and Comlekci Church are about 30 minutes’ walk farhter into the valley and much further lies St Epthemios Church/Kalburlu and Komurlu. See map below.

If you have time, explore other fascinating sights. From the ticketing office, drive 15 minutes east (passing through Sivrihisar town), then make a left to Sivrihisar Castle (Koyu), and farther on is the decrepit yet still magnificent Red Church.

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