The Phrygian Valley

the phrygian valley

In the heart of Turkey’s Afyon lies the Phrygian valley, a huge area with a series of mystical caves steeped in ancient history.

For a taste of Turkey in your kitchen take a look at this delicious lamb pide recipe. 

Afyon is a central region of Turkey well known for it’s thermal springs, but travel past the spas and you’ll discover the beautiful Phrygian Valley, a huge expanse of hollow caves that have been inhabited for over 7000 years. Still populated to this day, the Phrygian Valley is a wonderful contrast of the ancient with the present, with a thriving farming community working the land around the gorgeous ochre coloured caves and natural rock formations that are scattered across the whole valley.

Wandering along the dusty road that goes through the centre of the valley feels like something out of an Indiana Jones film, with huge ancient caves looming on all sides, each containing their own secrets from centuries gone by. Exploring these carved out caverns is utterly fascinating, as each has its own history that tells the story of ancient civilisations that have made the valley their home.

One cave holds the carved out graves of a Roman family, with protective engraved stone lions over the door, which have stood the test of time and several different inhabitants. A church from the second century, the era in which the Christians settled in Afyon, has a cathedral-esque interior, stone eaves and worship rooms chiselled deep into the rocks face.

Explore the caves some more and you find another tiny space that appears unassuming, but look at the walls through a camera lense and you’ll see the Jesus and the 12 disciples painted onto the stones surface. This phenomenon continues to baffle scientists and is definitely worth the trek up the step hill upon which it sits.

The Phrygian Valley also plays host to the fabled King Midas’ castle, a huge rock formation that stands out in the plains that has natural rooms that apparently housed the famous donkey-eared king. If you’ve got strong shoes its well worth climbing up to the top of the rock for unbeatable views of the sweeping valley and its famous‘fairy chimneys’, the colloquial term for rock formations that look uncannily like mushrooms.

Thanks to the Afyon Culture and Tourism Office for the beautiful images.

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