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Vallée de Péristréma

Vallée de Péristréma (Turkey)

Practical information about Vallée de Péristréma

  • River
  • Caves
  • Place or Religious Monument
  • Place or Historical Monument
5 / 5 - One review
How to get there
Five minutes on foot from the village of Ilhara
When to go
All year round
Minimum stay
One day

Reviews of Vallée de Péristréma

Nicolas Landru Travel writer
117 travel articles

The Peristrema Valley differs from the large valleys of Cappadocia. It does not contain unusual rock formations, though it is nevertheless spectacular: a deep canyon with sheer rock walls and a smattering of rock churches. It truly is a beautiful place.

My suggestion:
Walk between the two groups of cave churches, Ilhara and Belisirma. The route takes you along the side of the Melendiz River and it is an easy walk to do. There are several ways to get down into the canyon from the plateau, notably the steps from Ilhara village.

This is a very beautiful natural site: a spectacular canyon containing some remarkable ancient ruins. The forces of erosion have not transformed this geological scar into fairy chimneys, but instead cut a monolithic and vertically sheer canyon into the Anatolian plateau The rock walls bordering the Melendiz River here rise to over 100 metres on average.

The Perestrema Valley is particularly sheltered and difficult to reach, with no steps cut into the rocks nor hidden paths. This is where Christians from the Arab countries to the east of Egypt sought refuge in the 7th century as they fled the Arab conquest, with Cappadocia still a Byzantine and Christian land at the time. They ended up building cave churches and villages into the very rock itself. Two groups of these are still quite well preserved today. With their holes dotted around the rock surface, some of which are inaccessible, they are quite fascinating: how did those men and women back then get to them?

The Ilhara group is the best preserved, with its sculptured church façade and the rock frescoes in the interior rooms. The Belisirma one is also fascinating, its façade looking almost like a Greek temple.