Discover Ancient Cave Churches in Göreme Open Air Museum
Göreme Open Air Museum is one of the most popular sites in Cappadocia. The Open Air Museum is a complex carved into the mountain composed of monasteries placed right next to each other. Every monastery houses it’s own impressive, ancient church. What’s even more impressive, is that most of those churches still have beautiful, original frescoes. The oldest ones date back to the 10th century! Located just 15 minutes walk from the centre of Göreme, this UNESCO World Heritage site should be one of the first places you visit. Read to find out everything you need to know about it.
A bit of History
At the end of 4th century, a large Christian community was formed in Cappadocia. They carved openings in the soft rock and decorated it with paintings. The community evolved and with years, new carvings were made: new & larger churches were carved into the mountain and decorated with Byzantine frescos from the post-iconographic period.
Visiting Göreme Open Air Museum
The Göreme Open Air Museum is a complex of monasteries, each with it’s own unique church. The whole site isn’t large and you can visit it by walking in a circle. Turn left after passing the gates and then proceed along the path. The most impressive churches have descriptions in front of them. Some are extremely simple, without frescos, just with one big open space. We loved visiting those, as it truly shows how people lived and worshipped there in the past.
In all the most important churches with incredible well preserved frescos, it’s forbidden to take photographs. It’s a pity that we cannot show you the impressive paintings that survived over 10 centuries. But we do understand that it’s for the preservation of those antic decorations and ask everyone to just admire the inside’s of the churches.
↬ TIP : Visiti Göreme Open Air Museum in the morning and follow the road to the entry of Meskendir Hiking Trail and hike Rose and Red Valleys.
Everything you need to know
1 April – 1 October
1 October – 1 April
54 TRL + 18 TRL for the Dark Church
How to get there
Surprisingly Göreme Open Air Museum is not on google maps. You can find the entrance right next to Asmali Cafe.
The easiest way to get there is by walking from Göreme. It’s only 15 min and the way is quite beautiful. It passes through a valley with awesome rock formations.
↬ TIP : On your way back step out of the sidewalk and pass through the mountain formations. It’s safe to walk there and you can get close to other carved houses. Make sure to wear closed shoes as the vegetation can be scratchy.
How long does it take
Reserve 1.5h – 2h to visit the whole site. You don’t have to enter each cave as there are countless carved into the mountains. Make sure to pass through the most important ones.
Best time to visit
Göreme Open air Museum is the most popular site in Cappadocia. Therefore, it can get very busy. It’s best to visit in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the biggest crowds.
What to bring
- Wear closed shoes. There is so much dust and sand that sandals are really not practical (learn for my mistake).
- Wear a hat, sunglasses and bring water in reusable water bottle.
- If you’d like to visit Göreme Open Air Museum, make sure not to miss Zelve Open Air Museum! It’s less popular, thus less crowded, but really impressive site!