Ihlara Valley, Aksaray, Turkey · Morphosis [224]

Herr D.

Ihlara Valley

Located at the southern edge of Cappadocia, the Ihlara Valley is a tree-filled gorge in the otherwise semiarid Konya plateau. The small Melendiz River cut deep into the valley, whose rough, craggy walls were originally formed by an eruption of Mount Hassan. 14 km long and up to 150 m deep, the valley was the perfect place for Byzantine Christians to hide from persecutors. They built some 50 monolithic churches and other structures into the walls of its secluded confines. The interiors of the churches are quite famously covered with intricate wall paintings. The Melendiz River continues its course to the saltiest salt lake in the world, Tuz Gölü. No more than 2 m at its deepest, Tuz Gölü lies in a natural tectonic depression and covers an area of about 1500 km2. It vanishes almost completely every summer, leaving behind a bed of salt approximately 30 cm deep. As can be imagined, a great industry has developed around this resource, producing 70% of Turkey’s salt. Flamingos, geese and kestrel breed around the lake, but its special ecosystem is endangered by industry and misuse. Abidin Özkaymak, Secretary of the Central Anatolia Environment Platform Association, has claimed that the (unfiltered) sewage of Konya feeds more water into Tuz Gölü than either of its two small streams.
[225] Tuz Gölü, Turkey