Selime Cathedral –The inspiration for the setting in Star Wars Episode 1

After hiking through a portion of the Ihlara Valley we hopped back in our car and stopped at a small store. A friendly Turkish gentleman spoke with us at the store, and when he found out we hadn’t gone to Selime Cathedral, he strongly urged us to do so—we’re so glad we did, I can’t believe we almost missed it! An added bonus was that the entry fee for Selime Cathedral is covered by the Ihlara Valley ticket (8 TL per person). (For a map of the general area click here.)

Hiking up the hill to Selime Cathedral (note the carved cave entrances everywhere).

Selime Cathedral along with numerous other rock-carved buildings sits at the northern end of the Ihlara Valley just across a highway. This area is “other worldly” and was the inspiration for part of the location set in Star Wars Episode 1, the location where Anakin Skywalker’s “pod race”  took place, if you saw that movie.

The landscape of Selime Cathedral area–hiking up.

The exterior area on the hillside around Selime Cathedral.

Entrance to one of the churches at the Selime Cathedral site.

Interior of another church at the Selime Cathedral site.

This room has two levels, and walkways around the 2nd level.

Selime Cathedral does not look like a cathedral in the traditional sense. The main church is the largest of its kind (carved out of rock) in Cappadocia, and the site contains numerous other caves and rooms for the monks (living quarters, kitchens, chapels, etc.) in the side of a mountain. Most of the structures here are from the 13thcentury.

Interior of Selime Cathedral.

Another interior view of Selime Cathedral.

Possibly the Chapter House of Selime Cathedral.

Allow at least an hour to visit this site.  Hiking up to the caves does involve some scrambling along the narrow and steep rock trails.

Another exterior view of the carved churches and other rooms.

Due to its easy access from the road, Selime Cathedral was far busier that the Ihlara Valley itself.