Soğanlı Valley is a serene valley with courtyard monasteries and cave churches from the 6th to 11th centuries. The remote valley is one hour drive from Göreme. The valley rivals the Göreme Open Air Museum and Ihlara Valley in terms of historical importance and natural beauty but receives far fewer visitors.
Soğanlı Valley is the ideal destination for peacefully hiking around and enjoying ancient churches. Most visitants spend only two hours here, but this deserves a full-day trip.
The creek has carved out this open green V-shaped valley. The environment and rich history make Soğanlı Valley a spectacular destination.
Along with Saklı Kilise (Hidden Church) and Cross Church, these churches are in a fairy chimneys group, directly opposite Karabaş Church.
To reach them, park at Snake Church (at the far end of the northern branch), cross over the creek, then walk 400 meters back downstream. The footpath is accessible and enjoyable, though not shaded on summer days.
There are signs to reach each of the churches, still, keep your eyes open; some are a bit hidden.
Kubbeli Kiliseler or Domed Churches is a group of three churches in Soğanlı Valley with unparalleled, visible domes. These are the only cave churches in Cappadocia with church architecture on the surface.
They share similar external architecture and interior painting styles. And all three churches were built above another church—the churches date to the early 900s AD.
Kubbeli Church 1 is the one you first see when approaching. The yellow sign marks it as "Dome Church." The church stands at the summit of a long rock with many tomb chambers. The dome is large and pronounced at the western high point. The flat cylinder part has a window, and the top retains its conical shape.
Another church appears at the lower level, connected with Kubbeli Church 1 via a staircase. This lower church is spacious but unpainted and has a tall central aisle; three steps elevate the triple apses.
The galleries are divided by two rows of arches.
Kubbeli Church 2 is a small, square chapel situated above Hidden Church (Saklı Kilise).
A large portion of the dome has collapsed onto the church floor. The architectural design and carving of Kubbeli are among the finest in Cappadocia. The carver was highly imaginative and skilled, but despite the monumental exterior and decorated interior, the interior is relatively small, just over 2m x 2m.
The Domed Churches (Kubbeli) builders wanted the places recognized from afar as churches, so they carved the preexisting fairy chimney into a church dome's shape to create a Byzantine skyline. Apart from this grouping of churches, external domes (or any form of exterior design) do not appear above any other cave churches in Cappadocia.
After visiting the churches, the path continues to Soğanlı Village, creating a loop back to the parking area (850 m) visiting two main churches, Karabas and Yilanli Churches.
The road back to the parking lot is exceptionally peaceful,
The first church to visit is Karabas, well signed along the road.
From Karabas Church, you have a few minutes to end up the loop and visit the last church located next to the parking, Yilanli Church.
Enjoy the walk, the nice breeze, and the spectacular landscape.
At the end of your hike, there is a beautiful and welcoming tea garden, perfect for enjoying a nice cup of tea or any refreshment and the unique "Gozleme."
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