Soğanlı is about 36 km south of Mustafapaşa, with interesting hiking trails, several old churches and pigeon houses inside the rocks in two valleys. You can have fun exploring the area on your own and getting off the beaten track. There also used to be a traditional Turkish village at Soğanlı, with people living as they had been for centuries, but unfortunately this village was closed in 2011 by authorities. Due to erosion it was considered too dangerous and currently the authorities are planning to turn the old village into a conservation area.
The Tokalı kilise (Buckle church) is up a steep, slippery, much-eroded stairway cut into the rock, on the right as you approach the village, before you reach the admission ticket booth. The Gök kilise (Sky-blue church) is to the left on the other side of the stream, indicated by a sign.
In the northern valley, you can see the Karabaş kilisesi (Black head church), next to the monks’ refectory, and the Yılanlı kilise (Church with a serpent) at the head of the valley.
If you cross the valley near the Yilanli kilise, you can go to the Kubbeli kilise (Church with a dome) and Saklı kilise (Hidden church). You can recognize the cylindrical dome of the Kubbeli as you walk up the other side of the valley. The Hidden church is really hidden, you will not see a sign of it until you walk past the entrance to it.
The pigeon houses around Soğanlı were built by monks to accommodate these birds valued for their droppings. Caves were hollowed out behind rock facades, then small holes carved through the wall to let the pigeons in. The borders of the holes were painted white to attract the birds, inside the birds were percing on a lattice of sticks. The monks collected their droppings for use as fertilizer for their grapevines with sweet grapes for making wine.
A popular Cappadocian souvenir, the Soğanlı doll, as the name tells, also comes from the valley. Local women have been making rag dolls for many years now, using very simple but specific Anatolian patterned fabrics to earn a living. A popular story about the doll’s origin tells about a mother who lost her baby and to relieve her grief, made a rag doll to replace her. However, the real story of the doll is not as dramatic. It started 50 years ago when a local woman Hanife made a doll for her granddaughter Döndü as part of her school task. While Döndü was going to school, she met some travellers who loved the pretty handmade rag doll and wanted to buy it. This gave the women of the village the idea to make such beautiful rag dolls and sell them to travellers visiting their village.