Selime Monastery is an astonishing rock-cut construction and the largest religious structure in the Cappadocia region with a cathedral-sized church cut directly into the volcanic tuff. Inside, original frescoes can be found although some have been damaged by weather. Signs of early civilizations are also present at the ancient site: Hittites, Persians, Romans, Early Christians, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks and Ottomans are some of the many inhabitants to have settled here. The church is separated into 3 sections by two rock columns. Kitchens and stables are also present as well as monks’ living quarters which are adorned with time-worn frescoes.
Selime Monastery is said to date back to the 8th or 9th century BC. The upper section mildly resembles a fortress with well-preserved walls and trenches as well as steep rock staircases and hidden passageways. In the 10th/11th century, the Monastery was converted to a Caravanserai, a refuge for travellers and tradesmen who journeyed along the silk road, this system was introduced by the Seljuk Turks to promote trade on this ancient road until faster sea routes were discovered. Selime Monastery has remained abandoned since the 16th century.
Selime Monastery is located 28 kilometres from Aksary, at the end of the Ilhara Valley in the Cappadocia region. An easy 2-hour hike can take you from the Village of Ilhara through the valley, along the Melendiz River, passing Belisirma Village, rock-hewn caves and churches to the Selime Monastery. It can also be visited with a Cappadocia day tour from Goreme.
In the nearby Selime Village is a Monumental Tomb, Selime Sultan Turbe, it displays and architectural style from the 13th century AD and is the only example of it’s kind in the Anatolia region.