The Göreme Open Air Museum Has the Finest Rock-cut Churches and Frescoes:
With its fairy chimneys, rock-cut churches, monasteries and cave houses, Cappadocia is one of the most fascinating and unique regions of Turkey. One of its most popular attractions is the Göreme Open Air Museum with its fine examples churches and religious paintings. And these are not your conventional churches, but rock-cut churches from the times of the early Christians.
Land of Three Saints
Cappadocia was once a refuge for the early Christians. To escape persecution, they lived and worshipped underground. It is believed that monastic activity in Cappadocia date back to the 4th century. The region became known as the Land of the Three Saints: St. Basil the Great who was Bishop of Kayseri; his brother St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. George of Nazianzus. As a result, there are some 3000 rock-cut churches in the Cappadocia region. The Göreme Valley has the greatest concentration of cave churches and the finest of these are at the Göreme Open Air Museum.
Visiting the Göreme Open Air Museum
We visited the Göreme Open Air Museum on a tour and our first stop was the Apple Church (Elmali Kilise), one of the more important churches in terms of its frescoes. Its name is rather unusual for a church and we were told that there used to be an apple tree growing next to it.
Our next stop was a cave called the Dining Hall. I’ve always wondered how these cave-dwellers manage to carve out such even walls and surfaces within the rocks with their primitive tools and here we learned the secret from Han our guide. The rock surfaces look tough, but they are actually soft volcanic tuff. When Han added a bit of water to the wall, the surface softens and he was able to scratch it with his key.
The Göreme Open Air Museum is like a monastic complex with churches, monasteries and nunneries – there are over 10 churches to explore here. The Tokali Kilise (Church of the Buckle) has a beautiful fresco of the Crucifixion on the ceiling and the Karanlik Kilise (Dark Church) has very well-preserved frescoes with scenes depicting the ascension of Christ (you have to pay additional admission fee for this church).
Note: To preserve the artwork, photographs are not allowed in the churches.
The Göreme Open-Air Museum is open daily from 08:30 to 19:00 (closes at 17:00 in winter months). If you are making your own way here, the Göreme Open Air Museum is about 1.5 km from Göreme town and so it’s possible to walk here.
Hotels in Göreme
The town of Göreme offers visitors a huge range of accommodation types and budgets. One of the coolest experiences would be to stay in a cave hotel, cave suite or a cave pension, depending on your budget. For the complete list of Göreme hotels, see Here.
See more Göreme Open Air Museum photos at Travelsignposts Göreme Open Air Museum album Here.
Map of Göreme: