Göreme Open Air Museum

Göreme Open Air Museum, one of the most important touristic centers of Cappadocia, where is famous for its fairy chimneys and a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its unique structures, takes its visitors on a small journey in history. Göreme Open Air Museum is a rock settlement that hosted an intensive monastic life until the 4th century B.C. In the area that forms a valley, churches, chapels, dining halls, and sitting areas are carved in rock blocks. Göreme Valley is considered as the place where the monastery education system started first; the same education system spread to Soğanlı, Ihlara, and Açık Saray in the following years. Göreme Open Air Museum has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 6th December 1985.

Visiting Göreme Open Air Museum

Göreme open-air museum was located in a valley of rock blocks, which contains living spaces, and many preserved cave blocks of monasteries, churches, and chapels carved into the rocks. There are other living areas besides monasteries. Cappadocia geography has a soft structure because it is volcanic tuffaceous land. Therefore, it is quite suitable for carving and giving the desired shape. People living in that period carved the rocks and built houses where they could take shelter. Inside the houses, dining halls, cellars, places of worship, many chapels, and other sitting areas are clearly visible. It is possible to see 10th-century murals and examples of Byzantine art in most of them. Some of the most important places to visit are Nunnery, St. Basil’s Chapel, The Apple Church, Saint Barbara Chapel, Saint Katerina Chapel, Snake Church, Dark Church, Sandals Church are coming. The most popular of these is The Apple Church. What makes this place special is its architecture and unique decorations. We strongly recommend you to see it.

How Do You Get to the Göreme Open Air Museum?

Since Göreme Open Air Museum is located in Nevşehir-Göreme, transportation is only provided by land.

Firstly, you can go to Nevşehir – Cappadocia Airport by air. From here you can go to the city center by taxi, by tour buses organized by tour companies or by renting a car from the rent a car company at the airport. The distance between Nevşehir – Cappadocia Airport and Göreme Open Air Museum is approximately 44 km. It takes approximately 40 minutes. Since the road to the Göreme Open Air Museum is quite new, you can be sure that the journey will be enjoyable, and you will have unforgettable memories.

As a second alternative, you can go to the Göreme Open Air Museum by air, you can use Kayseri airport, but this journey may take a little longer. The distance between Kayseri Airport and Göreme Open Air Museum is approximately 77 km. Your journey will take approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes.

Göreme Open Air Museum Visiting Hours

Domestic and foreign tourists who want to visit the Göreme Open Air Museum must obey the visiting hours. Visiting hours to Göreme Open Air Museum is open between 08:00 and 17:00 in the summer season, in April and October. The museum is open between 08:00 and 17:00 in the winter season, in November and March.

Göreme Open Air Museum Ticket Price

Visitors have to pay a fee before entering Göreme Open Air Museum located in Nevşehir. At the same time, Plus Müzekart holders have the right to visit this museum unlimitedly. Besides, visitors who want to visit the Göreme Open Air Museum have to pay 75 TL.

Best Time to Visit Göreme Open Air Museum

When to visit Göreme Open Air Museum is another question to be found an answer before you visit the Göreme region. Since it is located on a high and dry plateau in the Central Anatolia Region, Göreme has hot and dry weather in summer and cold, snowy weather in winter. Although the summer months are the most crowded due to holidays, Göreme is beautiful in every season. Even if you have been there many times, when you see the valleys under the snow in winter, you come across a completely different world. Although there is a decrease in the number of tourists in winter compared to summer months, tourism in the region continues for 12 months. The period between 15 March and 15 November can be considered the most suitable period to visit this unique site.

How Long to Spend at Göreme Open Air Museum

In Göreme Open Air Museum, you can climb the areas carved into the rocks by stairs, and you usually get tired when you visit 2-3 places. However, we recommend that you visit all the places without stopping and taking a break. Considering the width of the region, you can foresee that you will spend at least 2-3 hours here.

History of Göreme Open Air Museum

In Göreme, monastic life started in the 4th century B.C. and continued until the 13th century B.C. For this reason, their remnants of life in almost every rock in the region. Life in this valley in Göreme began in the 4th century B.C. during the first Christian times. A new era began with the arrival of the bishop St. Basil to the Göreme region in the 4th century B.C. St. Basil started to spread his teachings in the Goreme region and raised new students. In this way, the monastic life started in the whole valley. Many different monks, especially Saint Basil, engraved their thoughts on the rocks. All the works of that period have survived until today.

Göreme Open Air Museum Artifacts

There are many monastic churches and chapels to visit and see in the Göreme Open Air Museum. In this open-air museum, there are geometric shapes and religious images and writings of Christianity. Besides, frescoes telling the stories of Jesus and the Bible also attract attention. The monastery of Priests in Göreme Open Air Museum is one of the most remarkable areas. Just at the entrance of this museum, there is Saint Basel Chapel. There are nine domes, four columns, and three apses in the Elmalı Church, which is also in the museum. There are many areas in the Göreme Open Air Museum, such as Saint Barbara Chapel and the Dark Church.

Chapel of St Basil

The section at the entrance of the church and separated from the main section by columns is called Narteks. There is a cemetery where important people are buried in the narthex section of this chapel. The hollow parts on the cemetery heads are known as children’s graves, but they are made to place fragrant scents and create a more mystical atmosphere. From the left of the cemeteries, the chapel is passed. The main section of the churches is called the nave and is usually surrounded by seating sections.

Apple Church

The Apple Church is not actually very large, but it is a work of art due to its architecture and decorations. The ceiling consists of 9 domes supported by 4 columns, and each dome is decorated in different scenes.

The reason why this church is called the Apple Church is that the spherical object held by the depiction of Archangel Michael. It is located in the dome right in front of the main apse, is resembled to an apple. Archangel Michael is one of the 4 great angels and is responsible for the management of natural phenomena.

When you visit the church, you may wonder why the frescoes are so alive and intact. The reason for this is the restoration of churches in the museum in the ’90s. The frescoes in restored churches are left untouched to be used as a reference before restoration. The frescoes in the Elmalı church can be seen in the small square inside the apse on the right before they were restored. The frescoes in the church were destroyed by writing names rather than natural destruction.

Barbara Chapel (Apple Stone Church)

Saint Barbara Church was built in the name of Saint Barbara, who is an Egyptian and was accepted as a martyr for being killed by her father because of her Christian belief. Two painting techniques stand out in the churches in the region. In this church, the technique of painting directly on the rock with red paint was used extensively. This painting technique is more durable as the paint does not come off even if the paint is scratched, as the rock absorbs the paint.

In between the domes with columns on the corners of the church, various frescoes were made with a special painting technique that is made directly on the rock. We understand that it belongs to Christ from the cross in the ring around his head. A symbol in the form of a circle is embroidered around the heads of saint and angel depictions. The symbol of the cross is found in the ring surrounding the head in the figures of Jesus

Snake Church

The Snake Church takes its name from the depiction of St. George, who fought the dragon. It was named “the church with a serpent” because the green dragon figure on the wall resembles a snake. The snake church is a small church that was probably left unfinished. In fact, the most interesting figure in the church is the depiction of Saint Onuphrius, depicted as half woman and a half-man with his long beard. Saint Onuphrius was a hermit living in the deserts of Egypt.

One of the most interesting decorations of the Snake Church is the decoration on the entrance door that resembles a checkerboard. This pattern, which seems to be made just for decoration, has an interesting story When Jesus was crucified, the Roman soldiers could not share Jesus’ properties, and they drew squares and put the items on the squares. Each soldier threw stones at the squares and took the item on the square where the stone was standing. The square shapes on the door symbolize this sharing of goods.

Dark Church

The dark church is well preserved from human destruction because it is located in the upper parts and used as a dovecote. The Dark Church is a domed church with 4 columns. Its walls are decorated with frescoes staging some important events important to Christianity and also mentioned in the Bible. Located in the main dome, the depiction of Jesus is one of the important works of exemplifying 11th-century Byzantine art. The letters IC, XC around the fresco are the names of Jesus. The depiction of Jesus with his three fingers together represents the Father-Son-Holy Spirit trinity, which has an important place in Christianity. It is possible to see these symbols in many churches in the region. In the dark church, it can be seen that some events are taken from the Torah, the holy book of the Jews, are also depicted.

Saint Catherine’s Chapel

According to the story, she sees Jesus in her dream, and when she wakes up, she finds Christ’s ring attached to his finger. Saint Catherine, who lived as a hermit in Egypt for years, was a person who taught Christianity to many students.

Sandals Church

Sandals Church is a church built higher than the other churches, with a refectory section on the ground floor. Therefore, we think that the students studying at the monastery ate here. The symbol of the Maltese Cross is engraved on one side of the table. There is a depiction of Jesus’ last supper staged. One of the interesting features of the cafeteria is that this scene is depicted inside the dining hall, where Jesus had his last dinner with his apostles before he was caught by the Roman soldiers. This scene, which you can see in many churches, contains very interesting details.

Tokalı Church

Tokalı Church is located outside of Göreme Open Air Museum, but it is part of the museum. The restoration of the church is being carried out by Italian architecture. One of the most important features of the church is in the 10th-century frescoes in the nave. They are additions to the half dome added in the 11th century. There are scenes from the life of the Prophet Jesus and the saints in the church, which contains frescoes of 12 apostles. The church consists of four rooms. The oldest part is from the 10th century. There are also scenes from the Bible in the new part of the church.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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