Goreme Open Air Museum

Goreme Open Air Museum

During the early days of Christianity, Roman soldiers persecuted the faithful due to the official sanction of the pagan religion in Rome. In response to this persecution, many Christian communities were forced to relocate to areas where they could worship without fear of persecution.

In the latter part of the second century, a large Christian community relocated to Cappadocia to escape the persecution they faced. This community carved monasteries with small churches into the rock formations of the region. The Cappadocia and Goreme Open Air Museum is one such complex that has survived to this day. Originally containing 34 churches, only 9 remain as part of the museum.

Nunnery & Monastery

As you enter the monastery, you will notice the first carvings on either side of the entrance. The nuns and monks who resided in this area carved their nunnery and monastery into small spaces that resembled individual cells, all situated within a communal public village. Similar to our homes, the nunnery and monastery included living quarters, sleeping areas, kitchens, dining rooms, and storage spaces. However, the striking difference lies in the fact that all these carvings were done by hand into solid rock walls.

Saint Basil Chapel

Adjacent to the nunnery is a monastery dedicated to Saint Basil, the patron saint of Cappadocia, which includes the Saint Basil Chapel. Originally built in the 4th century, the chapel underwent restoration in the 11th century. Despite its simplicity, the chapel is one of the notable churches within Cappadocia's museum complex. Inside its walls, one can observe depictions from Orthodox culture, including portraits of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, St. Theodore, St. Basil, and two unidentified female saints. Moreover, the chapel is home to a cemetery where numerous monks have been laid to rest.

Goreme Open Air Museum
Apple Church (Elmali Church)

The Apple Church, situated within the Goreme Open Air Museum, features a closed cross-shaped design with four columns, three apses, and nine domes. The original geometric paintings with crosses date back to the 4th century. In the 11th century, more intricate paintings were added to the church, which have remarkably survived to this day. These paintings include scenes such 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, Hospitality of Abraham, and Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace.

Saint Barbara Chapel

Saint Barbara Chapel stands out as the most alluring building within the museum complex due to its unique paintings that depict various religious and abstract figures. The composition of the paintings is somewhat difficult to comprehend, resembling the absurd style of the iconoclastic periods. The crosses on the sides of small niches, decorated with triangles, are believed to represent Jesus and the Holy Bible. However, the meaning of the three triangular-shaped trees and the lance heads remains unclear. It is uncertain whether they depict "Deesis" (with Jesus situated between the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist) or "Transfiguration" (with Jesus situated between Moses and Elijah). Nonetheless, the enigmatic nature of the paintings adds to their charm and intrigue.

Snake Church (Saint Onuphrius Church)

The Snake or Serpent Church, located across from St. Barbara Church, has a rectangular layout and dates back to the eleventh century. The left wall of the church features fascinating paintings of Saint George and Theodore engaged in combat with dragons, as well as depictions of Saint Helena and Constantine holding crosses. Other images, including those of saints Onuphrius behind palm trees, and Saint Thomas and Basil, can also be seen. Despite its small size and unfinished state, the church's captivating paintings make it a must-see destination for art enthusiasts.

Goreme Open Air Museum
Dark Church (Karanlik Kilise)

The Dark Church is arguably the most well-preserved church in Cappadocia and one of the finest in all of Turkey. It derives its name from the limited natural light that enters through a small window near the entrance, resulting in a dark interior. However, this has had the unexpected benefit of preserving the vibrant colors of its paintings, which have been remarkably well-preserved for centuries due to minimal exposure to extreme weather conditions such as rain or snow. The church's walls are adorned with numerous depictions from The Bible, including the 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, and Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace, as well as portraits of various saints.

Carikli Church (Sandals Church)

Carikli Church, a two-story structure, offers a fascinating glimpse into the religious history of Cappadocia. The lower level features a dining area adorned with a stunning engraving of The Last Supper on the wall behind it. The upper level houses a church area that dates back to the 13th century. Above the main dome, Jesus Pantocrator is depicted holding his hands aloft, while four figures (Matthew, Luke, John and Mark) are seated below him. The other three domes feature figures of the angels Michael, Gabriel, and Uriel. The middle dome showcases scenes of Jesus on his way to Golgotha and the raising of Lazarus, with the Angel Gabriel also depicted. The central apse boasts a well-preserved figure of the Deesis, featuring Jesus holding an open book with the inscription "I am the light of the world, who follows me will not be left in misery." Around the altar, five Christian saints (Blaise, Gregory Nazianus, Basil, Chrysostom, and Hypatios) are also depicted.

Tokali Church (Buckle Church)

The Tokali Church, located in Cappadocia, is considered one of the most beautiful and oldest churches in the area, with four sections including the old church, a new chapel, a lower church or cemetery, and storage. The paintings on the old church, dating back to the 10th century, depict the entire life of Jesus in chronological order. This church section may have been used as a school to teach Christianity through visual storytelling.

Starting from left to right and moving from panel to panel (3 on each side), you can see 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.

Goreme Open Air Museum

The New Church, dating back to the late 10th and early 11th century, is the only church in Cappadocia where light blue frescoes can be seen. These colors come from Lapis Lazuli stone, which was traded through the Silk Road from Afghanistan. The frescoes in this section include stories about St. Peter and many paintings from the life of Jesus, in a more modern style.

For those interested in visiting Goreme Open Air Museum, we offer private tours for individuals or groups at a price of 80 Euros per person. This includes a professional English-speaking guide, entrance tickets to the museum and the Dark Church, and transportation. We also offer a Highlights of Cappadocia Tour, which includes a visit to the Goreme Open Air Museum, for 100 Euros per person with a professional tour guide.

If you have any questions or inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] and we will respond as soon as possible.