A short and pleasant walk, about 1.5 km, southeast of Göreme town lies the “Open Air Museum”, which is Cappadocia’s principal attraction; for good reason! The Göreme Open Air Museum is a monastic complex of medieval cave churches, carved out by Orthodox monks, and embellished with Byzantine frescoes dating from 900-1200 AD.
We recommended that you follow the path in the set order, to better take advantage of the museums organization. Don’t let Open Air become “Free Form” – until after you have done the circuit – then wander freely :)
There are over 10 cave churches, along with rectories, dwellings, and a religious school. A convent with six stories of tunnels, of tunnels, corridors, stairways and chambers is an architectural and historical marvel.
While there, it is worth visiting is the Buckle Church Just outside the museum exit on the right; it is the largest of the cave churches at Göreme – restored in the 1960s. The frescoes give a comprehensive account of the life of Christ – from the Annunciation, through the Baptism and Miracles, ending with the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension.
Or Church with the Apple, dates from the 11th century and has well-preserved frescoes of biblical scenes and portraits of saints. The name, thought to derive from a red orb held by St. Michael the Archangel, is depicted in a fresco near the entrance.
Or Dark Church (below), is named aptly named for the lack of light that penetrates the interior. It was subsequently used as a pigeon house until the 1950s; It took 14 years to scrape the pigeon feces from the walls! After that, it was extensively restored by UNESCO to reveal vividly colorful frescoes of New Testament scenes with the painting of Christ Pantocrator on the dome dominating.
These are considered the best-preserved frescoes in all of Cappadocia as the absence of light has preserved the colors which are still vivid and beautiful.
Azize Barbara Kilisesi
The Church of Saint Barbara’s late 11th century dedicated to their patron saint Barbara was an Egyptian martyr who was imprisoned by her father in order to protect her from the influences of Christianity. Barbara nevertheless found a way to practice her faith and her father tortured and killed her. The church is distinguished by simple geometric designs and Maltese crosses painted in red directly onto the stone.
Also called the church of the Sandal was named after some indentations resembling the footprints; some believe these to be casts of Jesus’ own footprints.
Göreme Open Air Museum
(90) 384 271 2167
Merkez 50180 Nevşehir, Turkey
8:00 – 17:00 Daily, Fall/Winter
8:00 – 19:00 Daily, Spring/Summer