GOREME OPEN AIR MUSEUM
In the early years of Christianity, people who chose this religion had a lot of trouble with the persecution of Roman Soldiers, as the Pagan Religion was the only official one in Roman Empire. The communities, who are under this pressure, had to switch their location to the places where the accommodation amenities are much more relaxed. By the end of 2nd century, a large Christian community had formed in Cappadocia due to the relocation of the people because of the persecution. These people started carve some monasteries with a lot of small-sized churches in them in Cappadocia and Goreme Open Air Museum is one of them. There used to be 34 churches in this museum complex and 9 of them can still be visited.
Nunnery & Monastery
When you enter the museum, these carvings are the first ones you see on the right and left hand-sides. The nuns and monks were living separately in these sections while the public was living in their villages. Just like our homes, the nunnery and monastery sections have the dining rooms, living and sleeping quarters, kitchens and storages with one difference: all carved into the rocks.
Saint Basil Chapel
This small church is located right next to the nunnery and dedicated to the famous patron saint of Cappadocia: Saint Basil. The church is originally dating back to 04th century with more painting added on 11th century. It can be accepted as one of the simplest churches in the museum complex. On the walls of the chapel, you can see the portraits of The Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, St. Theodore, St. Basil and 2 female saints. You can also see the depiction of Saint George; the dragon slayer in this church. The church also has a cemetery section attached to the church part.
Apple Church (Elmali Church)
Having four columns, nine domes and three apses, Apple church has a closed-cruciform plan. The original painting dates back to 04th century and has geometrical designs and cross shapes. At the end of 11th century, more sophisticated and professional paintings have been dyed on this church and most of these examples are still surviving. Some of the paintings that you can see on this church is as: Deesis, Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Baptism, Raising of Lazarus, Transfiguration, Entry into Jerusalem, Last Supper, Betrayal of Judas, Way of the Cross, Crucifixion, Entombment, Anastasis, Women at the Tomb, Ascension, the Hospitality of Abraham and Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace.
Saint Barbara Chapel
This church might easily be the most attractive one in the entire museum complex because of having different varieties of religious and absurd figures. The hard to understand composition of the church is beyond the simplicity of its architecture. It is more like the absurd style of the iconoclastic period. It is thought that the cross figures on the sides of the small niches, which are surrounded by decorated triangles; represent Jesus and the holy bible. The 3 figures of triangular shaped trees and the heads of the lances are very hard to explain. It is still not known whether they are described in the "Deesis" (Jesus situated between the virgin Mary and John the Baptist) or " Transfiguration" (Jesus situated between Moses and Elijah).
Snake Church (Saint Onuphrius Church)
Snake or Serpent Church is located just opposite of Saint Barbara Church and has a rectangular plan. The church is dating back to 11th century. A nice and surviving depiction of Saint George and Theodore fighting with the dragon is located on the left wall of this church. You can also see the depictions of St. Helena and Constantine holding the cross, naked St. Onuphrius behind a palm tree, St. Thomas and St. Basil. The church is a small, probably not finished, family church with interesting paintings.
Dark Church is obviously the best-protected church in Cappadocia and one of the best in Turkey. It is called as Dark Church as the church has a very small window in the narthex where it gets very little light and thanks to this, the colors of the church are still very vivid and the paintings are intact. The church is a very good example of late 12th and early 13th century Byzantine art. There are a lot of depictions from The Bible such as: Deesis, Annunciation, Journey to Bethlehem, Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Baptism, Raising of Lazarus, Transfiguration, Entry into Jerusalem, Last Supper, Betrayal of Judas, Crucifixion, Anastasis, Women at the Tomb, Ascension,the Hospitality of the Prophet Abraham, Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace and portraits of the saints. The church has an extra entrance fee of 18 Turkish Lira per person.
Carikli Church (Sandals Church)
The church has two floors and in the first floor, you can see a nice dining room section with the depiction of The Last Supper at the end of the rock-cut dining table. The second floor is actually the church section and dates back to 13th century. At the main dome, the figure of Jesus the Pantocrator with the busts of angels in the insets is seen. Below this there are the four authors of the bible (Matthew, Luke, John and Mark) figures. Three of the angels (Michael, Gabriel and Uriel) figures are drawn in the other three domes. In the middle dome where the Angel Gabriel is seen, there are scenes of Jesus heading to Golgota and the raising of Lazarus. In the central apse, a well-preserved figure of the Deesis is seen. The words " I am the light of the world, who follows me will not be left in the dark" are seen in the figure of Jesus in which he is depicted holding an open book. Around the altar, the figures of Blaise, Gregory of Nazianus, Basil, Chrysostom and Hypatios are drawn.
Tokali Church (Buckle Church)
Tokali Church is one of the most beautiful and oldest churches in Cappadocia and it has 4 sections as: The Old Church, The New Church, The Lower Church (cemetery) and the storage. The paintings on the Old Church are dating back to 10th century. The most interesting point of this section is that the entire life of Jesus has been depicted on chronological order. Starting from left to right and moving from panel to panel (3 on each side), you can see the following paintings: Annunciation, Visitation, Proof of the Virgin, Journey to Bethlehem and Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Massacre of the Innocents, Flight into Egypt, Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Killing of Zacharias, Pursuit of Elizabeth, Calling of St. John the Baptist, Preaching of John, John meeting Jesus, Baptism, Marriage at Cana, Miracle of the Wine, Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, Calling of the Apostles, Healing of the Blind Man, Raising o Lazarus, Entry into Jerusalem, Last supper Betrayal, Jesus before Pilate, Way of the Cross, Crucifixion, Descent from the Cross, Entombment, Women at the Tomb Anastasis, Ascension. Most of the historians and archeologists are thinking that this section of the church was used as a school to teach Christianity. Instead of the bible itself, the kids were learning the religion by visualizing the stories in the church. The New Church is the only one in Cappadocia where you can see the light blue color in frescoes, which is coming from Lapis Lazuli stone. The stone was traded from Afghanistan through the Silk Road and it has been used in this church. The Church is dating back to last decade of the 10th century and the first decade of the 11th century. Like in the old church, there are lots of paintings from the life of Jesus in more modern way and some stories of St. Peter.
We offer Private Goreme Open Air Museum Tours for 50 Euro per person including professionally licensed English speaking guide, entrance tickets to the museum and The Dark Church and transportation. We also have Small Group Highlights of Cappadocia Tour and Cappadocia Culture Tour visiting Goreme Open Air Museum.
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