Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia, Turkey


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The compact monastic complex Goreme Open Air Museum is the number 1 site of Cappadocia for travelers, also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage in Turkey. Located in the valley; the museum is only a 20-minute walk (1.5 km, 1 mile) from the town center. The site holds the region’s best collection of painted cave-churches carved by the medieval Orthodox Christian monks (1000 - 1200 A.D) from the volcanic stone and decorated with the delicate workmanship of those periods’ artists. The best-preserved church in Goreme Open Air Museum is the Karanlik (Dark) Church (requires an additional admission but worth paying!) The others are; St. Barbara, Elmali (Apple), Yilanli (Snake), Carikli (Sandals) and Tokali (Buckle) churches. Tokali is located 50 meters away from today’s site entrance and should not be missed.

Christianity in Cappadocia

“Are not all the people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, but we hear them speaking in our tongues ‘(Acts 2:7-12)”

In the Bible, it is mentioned among the five provinces of Anatolia to which Peter's first letter is addressed (1 Pt. 1:1) and he may have played a role into Christianize. A part of the area was included in the Roman province of Galatia and in the past, some scholars believed that Paul might have thus visited Kapadokya and that when he addressed the Galatians in his letter, he also meant Cappadocian Christians. The recent and general opinion is that Paul visited only southern Galatia and his letter concerns just the Christians in this region.

Kapadokya, with its unique and surreal landscape which is truly created for those who seek to isolate themselves from the daily morass to soar to their souls, became the home of some prominent bishops who carried the flag of the Nicene Creed and played a crucial role in the formation of today’s Christianity. These are Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzus known as the Cappadocian Fathers and well respected in many churches of Goreme Open Air Museum as well. Their social and educational background made them leaders of the time and organized the monastic movement in Anatolia. Different from their Egyptian and Syrian counterparts, the early Christian community in the region distinguished themselves from the Christian communities in other regions through the social interaction they managed to create between the monastic community and the ordinary people outside of the strictly closed monastery complex. Generally, those joining to monasteries had isolated themselves not only from the worldly pleasures but also from any connection with ordinary people outside of this strict religious education. However, the Cappadocian Fathers, especially Saint Basil the Great who opened a dispensary in the region managed to lay down a healthy relationship with Cappadocian locals which distinguished his monastery from other ones and enabled him to spread Christianity in Central Anatolia. Besides Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory of Nyssa and Saint Gregory of Nazianzus also made important contributions to the development of Christianity in Cappadocia.

Open every day.
Best time to visit Goreme Open Air Museum is early in the morning and around noon.
(While most of the coach tours are having lunch and in the late afternoon to avoid the crowds)

Museum Hours:

High Season (Apr.-Oct.) Open: 08:00 / Close: 19:00
Low Season (Nov.-Mar) Open: 08:00 / Close: 17:00