Goreme Open Air Museum, known as the knowledge and thought of Cappadocia, is one of the most special places with its monastery which lives for years. The story of the valley started in the 4th century AD, at the early Christian periods. Monastery life denominated the valley when Kayseri Bishop of St. Basil came there to spread his teachings and raise students. The region where is called Goreme Ruins too, was the center of the education and training system until the 13th Century.
Best option to visit Göreme Open Air Museum is to join Cappadocia Red Daily Tour. Thanks to that tour, you can visit this amazing museum with a professional guide and also can visit other important places in the region of cappadocia. Please click the link for the details.
Information about Goreme Open Air Museum
This valley, in which almost every rock block has been carved and transformed into places of worship, life and teaching, and where holiness meets art, entered the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
It will be incomplete to come to Cappadocia and go without seeing Goreme Open Air Museum because there are many monastery and chapel where inspiration for St. Basil and thousands of monks from the past have engraved their thoughts on the rocks. Coloring techniques of churches differs according to building period. At the late of Christian period the coloring on the walls have religious content instead of the geometric shapes coloring at the earlier times of Christian living. Frescos, which tell Jesus and bible histories mostly, have their smells and colors from the past and wait their visitors with full energy and saying, ‘Once upon a time, we were living’.
Goreme Open Air Museum Location & Entrance Fee
The answer of ‘Where is the Goreme Open Air Museum and how to get it there?’ questions, we can say just following the inspiration of St. Basil! but in real, Goreme Open Air Museum is located 13 km from Nevşehir, 2 km from Goreme, Ortahisar and 3 km from Çavuşin. If you will come to Goreme Open Air Museum from Ürgüp road the distance is 6 km and after passing the Ortahisar crossroad then turn left on the traffic lights, then you will arrive.
Kılıçlar Valley is across of Goreme Open Air Museum and also it has a large parking lot for visitors came by car.
Goreme Open Air Museum’s entrance fee is 100 TL. If you have a MuseumCard (valid for Turkey), you can visit 2 times in a year and if you have MuseumCard+ (also valid for Turkey), you can visit unlimited.
Because the ticket prices can change year by year, you should check the website.
April 1st – October 1st: 08:00 – 19:00 (summer term)
October 1st – April 1st: 08:00 – 17:00 (winter term)
*** Museums and ruins are closed on the first day of religious day until 13:00.
Goreme Open Air Museum Churches
Goreme Open Air Museum is very special place for religious art history because it provided a combination of different races and languages under one roof. Various size of churches arrayed the dining halls and created a tremendous monastery complex. In Goreme Open Air Museum, except for 11 dining halls and churches that suitable to visit, there are 18 more churches that closed by grates because of the danger of collapse any time.
St. Basil Chapel, St. Barbara Chapel, Apple (Elmalı) Church, St. Catherina Chapel, Snake (Yılanlı) Church, Dark (Karanlık) Church, Sandals (Çarıklı) Church, Buckle (Tokalı) Church and Nuns and Monks Monastery are open to visit in Goreme Open Air Museum. These churches have separated into 2 categories as ‘Columnar Churches’ and ‘Snake Churches’. Columnar Churches are Apple Church, Dark Church and Sandals Church that have integrity on their wall painting. St. Barbara and St. Catherina Chapel, Nunnery Monastery and Snake Church are examples of Snake Churches category and they do not have any logical order, historical story and dependency with each other about their wall paintings.
Nuns and Monks Monastery
At the entrance of Goreme Open Air Museum, only 2 floors of the 7-floored Nuns and Monks Monastery which is located on the left carved into stones can be visited. There are tunnels between floors for connection and sliding stones were used to close the entrances of these tunnels in any danger. At the first floor, while you can see dining hall and kitchen and at the second-floor ruinous chapel. Because it is not safe to visit, the church at the third floor is closed. The church made directly into the rock and it has a fresco, depicting Jesus, engraved with red ornaments on the sides.
4-floored Monks Monastery is located across to the Nuns Monastery and at the entrance only several rooms can be visited because its connections were closed due to the erosion. The name of the monastery also called as ‘Girls and Men Monastery’. Students who trained in this 11-century monastery, were distributed to different regions to spread the knowledge and tell Christianity to the public.
St. Basil Chapel
Chapel is a little church that made with tomb additions and, generally dedicated to important people. St. Basil Chapel which is located at the entrance of the Goreme Open Air Museum, is one of the 11th century works. Tombs of important people is located at the Narthex part and it is separated with columns from the main area of the church. The chapel, which has a rectangular nave and a barrel vault, has 3 apses. On the main apse there is depictions of Jesus Christ, Child Jesus and Mar. Depictions of St. Theodore on a horse on the north wall, and on the south wall, there are depictions of St. George, St. Demetrius and saints who fought with dragons.
When you pass the Nuns Monastery you will see Apple Church located to the right of the entrance. Apple Church is one of the most important and worth to see church at the Goreme Open Air Museum because of its architecture and unique ornaments. It was built with cross-planned, three abscissa, four columns and nine domes. Each of the domes were symbolized different religious thoughts. When Apple Church restored in the 90th, it has repainted in accordance with its original, and frescos that lost its colors were not touched. It was built at mid-11th century and at the beginning of the 12th century. You can enter the church with a tunnel on the north also, but the main entrance on the south.
Apple Church named after a figure on the dome in front of the main apsis. In this figure, Mikhail was painted with an apple in his hand. Other figures involve both Christians and Judaism rituals and especially Bible and Torah scenes are really worth to see. First ornaments in the church were painted directly on the wall and made geometric shapes and crucifixes in red color. Although this artwork on the wall protected by nature for years, you will be disappointed at the exit of the church when you see the destruction made by people.
St. Barbara Chapel (Apple Stone Church)
St. Barbara Chapel, which is located behind the rocks and Apple Church, were built in the 11th century. It was dedicated to Egyptian Barbara who was killed because of her father was a Christian and then she was considered a martyr and become a sainthood. The chapel which has never human figures on the walls, adorned geometric shapes and mythological animal figures by using red ochre. There is also an inscription that is thought to be a prayer. It was built as in the cross-shaped plan and the northern, southern and western branches of the cross with barrel vaults. Also, there is a huge portrait of Jesus Christ at the center of the dome.
According to a rumor, the square shapes on the entrance door of the church, were a drawing technique of Roman soldiers who wanted to share goods of Jesus Christ after he was crucified. In each square, one of Jesus Christ’s goods is written and the soldiers thrown a stone to the squares and then the good that the stone coincided with would belong to that soldier. The reason of incomplete architectural in this small church was that it was believed that during a construction it would bring bad luck if one of the saints’ dead.
Snake Church is famous about its fresco of St. Onuphrus, who wander as a monk in Egypt deserts, because it depicted as a man with long beard and a woman with breasts together. Also, the church named after a depiction that a green dragon fought with St. George.
The plan of Snake Church, which was left incomplete, built as rectangular and barrel vault. The ceiling of the additional part with graves on the southern was left flat. You will enter the church from the North and you will see the figure, directly opposite to the entrance, Jesus Christ next to owner of the church, carry on the Bible with his left hand. On the West of the vault, there is a depiction of St. Onuphrus in front of the palm tree with his long hair and naked body, and saint’s depiction on the East.
The church is dated the 11th century.
Pantry, Kitchen and Dining Hall Sections
Passing through from Snake Church to Dark Church, there are 3 raked structures. The first part of the structure is pantry which made by hollows and used to keep the provisions. The structure in between has built as kitchen and there is a floor furnace that carved into the rocks. The third and the final structure is dining hall which has stone
s tables and chairs and its capacity made possible 50 people could eat together in here. There is a grapehouse at the right of the dining hall.
The Dark Church has only a little window and is still very dark. The best favor of the darkness is to protect paintings and figures on the walls for years. You can enter the church by a stair gateway. There are depictions about not only Christianity but also Judaism and Torah on the wall paintings that seem almost three dimensional after restoration. The big depiction on the main dome is combined with three fingers of Jesus Christ are symbolized dad-son-holy spirit. People who see this church, say ‘gorgeous’ and ‘there is not enough word to describe this beauty.’ In order to enter this church, you need to buy another ticket too besides Goreme Open Air Museum’s ticket. Also let us remind you that MuseumCard is not valid for the Dark Church. The reason of this exclusive attitude for this church is to decrease the occurring confluence when people visit the church. However, it made the church more popular, now nobody leaves from Goreme Open Air Museum without seeing the Dark Church.
The Dark Church has one big and two little domes and it built with 4 columns. Because it was used for feeding doves until 1950’s, the cleaning of dove’s dirtiness on the frescos took 14 years. The Dark Church is dated to the 11th century like Snake Church and it is known as the most protected and mysterious church in Cappadocia.
St. Catherine Chapel
The chapel which is a free cross planned central dome with 11 tombs inside, is estimated that was built by a Christian benefactor whose name is Anna. According to rumor, St. Catherine was an Egyptian monk who saw Jesus Christ in her dream and when she woke up she find his ring on her finger. Anne was built this chapel because of her respect to St. Catherine. In the chapel, the arms of the cross architecture were made with barrel vaults and the figures were used only in the naos part called the holy section. Corners of the dome are called pendant and decorated with geometric reliefs. The chapel which is dated to the 11th century, has Saints depiction and sceneries from the Bible and located between Dark and Sandals Churches.
The Sandals Church is dated to the end of the 12th century and beginning of the 13th century and is located on the same rock mass as Dark Church. Although there is some similarity between Apple and Dark Church, the depictions about Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and his removal from the cross are different. The most unique feature of this church is all frescos’ figures are pictured long and big.
Sandals Church is named after the depiction of sandaled footprints and under footprints the fresco which depicts the ascension of the Jesus Christ at the entrance of the church. This fresco also resembles the ‘Ascension Church’ in Jerusalem.
There are two main columns in the church, other columns are shaped as pillars at the corners of the walls. It was built with cross vaults, four domes and three abscissae. In the main dome, there is a painting the Pantocrator, which is often used in the Orthodox Christian, namely the moired ‘The Lord of The Universe’ is depicted, it is rumored that this style was also used in the Hagia Sophia dome. Also, angel busts are pictured in the same dome. The depiction of Mikael figured at the southern apsis and Mary and child Jesus at the northern apsis and Desis figures on the main apsis of the church. The cycle, which tells the life of the Jesus Christ’s, and the depictions in the Torah mentioned about Hz. İbrahim are the most preserved depictions.
Other issues in frescos involve scenes from entrance of the Jerusalem, changing, women in empty grave, three astrologer, betrayal, baptism, saints and New Testament. There is a dining hall under the church and a painting in here which is about the last dinner of Jesus Christ and his apostles before caught by Roman soldiers.
Although the Buckle Church is located out of the Goreme Open Air Museum, it is the biggest and the oldest church in the section that can be visited with the same ticket. It is estimated that the church was built in the 10th century, have four different area such as old church, the church under the old church, new church and the chapel. The old church was built with a single nave, barrel vault and the apse were destroyed while a new church was added to the building. The addition of new church was built with rectangular plans and again barrel vault. Scenes were pictured on the vault and at the top of the walls. The cycle that presents the periods of Jesus Christ’s life, were divided into a sequence of panels from left wing to the right wing like it is telling a story on the vault. Because of the sphere painting in the apse it looks like a big buckle, and so the church was named as ‘Buckle Church’. There was a painting
shows the scene of multi-arm Erubin and Cherubim angels that they are believed to carry the throne of the God in heaven, which are depicted in the left of the apse section. This scene is one of the interesting scenes that have remained throughout the history.
We recommend that you absolutely visit the Buckle Church whether before or after visiting the Goreme Open Air Museum because you will see the most beautiful Virgin Mary fresco of the region here, you will feel as if you are watching a religious documentary or visiting the most popular chapels in Vatican. In Buckle Church, which has the all subtleties of Byzantium art, there are lots of scenes perfectly depicted such as the killing of the prophet Zechariah, the meeting of the Jesus Christ and John the Baptist, the healing of a blind man, and the rising to the sky and Jesus’ landing to the hell of. In the Buckle Church, which dominated by red and blue color, you will see the blue color on the paintings that you didn’t see in the others.
Even if the real aim of the churches in Goreme Open Air Museum are training and worship, they all had different mystical feelings and thanks to it they have been a unique stop that takes in different periods. It is not known whether muse or monks who tell the story, but you will feel a hand on your shoulder while you are visiting Goreme Open Air Museum.
Now, we are end of the Goreme Open Air Museum guide.
As we stated at the beginnig of our page, best option to visit the Göreme Open Air Museum, is to join Cappadocia Red Daily Tour. Please click the link for the details.
Enjoy your trip!