This may be one of the most unique restaurants I have ever reviewed. In the town of Belisirma, in the Ihlara Valley once called Peristrema, are several restaurants with dining rooms suspended only about a foot above the small Melendiz Suyu River which created the valley/gorge. The volcanic Cappadocian landscape holds about 60 Byzantine churches, chapels, monasteries and hermits’ caves dating from the 11th to 13th centuries. It lies about 85 miles from Ürgüp where we were staying. Most of the churches are located between Ihlara Village and Belisırma but be warned, there are 360 steps down and back up to see them, we decided to just have lunch. Ihlara village lies at the southern end if the valley, while Selime is at the northern end, with Beliserma roughly in the middle. Even though this area is not as large as the city center of Güzelyurt or town of Ihlara, Greeks intensively settled in this village.
Even though the river is rather small, the gorge is impressively deep, just goes to show what a few thousand years of running water can accomplish. Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia Ihlara Valley (often misspelled as Ilhara Valley), near Mount Hasan and Mount Melendiz (two of the three volcanoes of Cappadocia) is a canyon with a depth of approximately 100m and was formed by the Melendiz River thousands of years ago. It begins at Ihlara village and ends with Selime Monaste after making 26 bends along 14 kilometers. It is believed that the valley housed more than four thousand dwellings and a hundred cave churches decorated with frescoes. Around eighty thousand people once lived in Ihlara Valley. The village is the usual Turkish mix of crumbling ancient buildings and few modern ones. Very picturesque from a distance. The road leading down to the river and bridge is pretty steep, but there is a large parking lot, in addition to room for camping once you get there.
As you can see from the above pictures, you have a choice of seating, on one side of the small river in regular chairs or above the water in the straw dining huts. We chose to be above the water. The low seating takes a little getting used to but the day was a little warm and it was deliciously cool above the water in the shade of the trees. It can get crowded if tour buses come but there are four restaurants to choose from. The day we visited, it was pretty quiet. You can see the small bridge in the background and there seemed to be an intermittent but steady stream of hikers coming by for lunch. You can actually hike the whole canyon in 7-8 hours, it is said to be easy walking amd shaded the whole way.
Honestly, the reason to eat here is the place itself. That said, fresh trout is the specialty of the house and it is delicious. We began with the lentil soup and also got Köfte as a meze to share. The bread was also noteworthy. The waiter spoke passible English, we shared a large salad, and each of us had the trout baked in the open oven. Simple and delicious. I was stuffed by the time I had eaten and took the opportunity to dangle my feet in the water and admire the picturesque surroundings. I cannot imagine a more perfect lunch or day. If you visit Cappadocia, take a little time to visit this magical place.
Ihrlara Valley: http://www.goreme.com/ihlara-valley.php