Top choice in Cappadocia

Let's get one thing straight: despite its science-fiction setting, no scene in Star Wars was ever filmed near Soğanlı. But don't despair Chewbacca fans; there's still ample reason to travel to this tiny village 36km south of Mustafapaşa. That reason is a reverential series of rock-cut churches hidden amid Soğanlı's two dramatic, secluded valleys: the Aşağı (Lower) Soğanlı and Yukarı (Upper) Soğanlı. An afternoon exploring at the foot of these sheer faces may inspire you to write your own script.

To reach Soğanlı, turn off the main road from Mustafapaşa to Yeşilhisar and proceed 4km to the village. The ticket office for the site is next to Hidden Apple Garden restaurant. At stalls in the site car park, local women sell the dolls for which Soğanlı is supposedly famous.

Last tickets are 4.30pm October to mid-April.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Cappadocia attractions

1. Saklı Kilise


Nestling in the Yukarı Valley hillside, very near the Kubbeli Kilise, is the Saklı Kilise (Hidden Church), which, as its name suggests, is indeed…

2. Karabaş Kilisesi


In Soğanlı's Yukarı Valley the first church on your right is the Karabaş Kilisesi, which is covered in paintings showing the life of Christ, with Gabriel…

3. Kubbeli Kilise

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Turn left at the Yılanlı Kilise, cross the Yukarı Valley floor and climb the far hillside to find the Kubbeli Kilise. The Kubbeli is unusual because of…

4. Geyikli Kilise

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In the Aşağı Valley, the Geyikli Kilise has a monks' refectory and a still-visible fresco on the wall of St Eustace with a deer (from which the church's…

5. Tahtalı Kilise

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The Tahtalı Kilise sits at the furthest end of the Aşağı Valley. It has well-preserved Byzantine and Seljuk decorative patterns.

6. Yılanlı Kilise

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The Yılanlı Kilise sits in the furthest corner of the Yukarı Valley, its frescoes deliberately painted over with black paint, probably to protect them…

7. Gök Kilise

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The Gök Kilise is just to the left of the Tokalı Kilise. It has twin naves separated by columns and ending in apses. The double frieze of saints is badly…

8. Tokalı Kilise

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On the main road into Soğanlı, about 800m before the ticket office, signs point to the Tokalı Kilise on the right, reached by a steep flight of worn steps.