Goreme Open Air Museum

Goreme Open Air Museum

Goreme Open Air Museum

Goreme Open Air Museum, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is definitely on my list of top things to do in Cappadocia. From being an important Byzantine monastic settlement that housed monks, to a pilgrimage site from the 17th century, the Goreme Open Air Museums houses some of the finest rock cut churches. These are beautifully painted from inside with murals dating from 900-1200 AD. Even today these wall frescoes retain their original freshness.

In the 2nd century AD there were ascetic monks who had adopted seclusion alone in the Cappadocia region, especially around Göreme. Although they were independent of monasteries and churches, they were an important social community. What made Cappadocia the centre of religious thought and life in the 3rd century was the presence of clergy with powerful character.

In the following century, the region was known as the hometown of the three great clergy. These were the Bishop of Kaisareia, Basileios, his brother Gregorios of Nyssagia and Gregorios of Nazianus. Basileios, known as the ‘Great’, returned to his home town, Kaisareia, the headquarters of the Cappadocia region, to devote himself to the monastic life. He was also effective in spreading the monastery life collectively.

A monastic life was present intensively in Göreme from 4th century AD to 13th century. There are churches, chapels, cafeterias and seating areas in almost every rock block. Göreme Open Air Museum is the place where this education system was launched. The churches were painted with two types of techniques. The first one is painting directly on the rock surface and the second one is fresco-secco (tempera) technique. Topics covered in the church are taken from the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ. The Göreme Open Air Museum houses the Girls and Boys Monastery, St. Basil’s Church, Elmalı Church, Saint Barbara Church, Serpent Church, Malta Crusader Church, Dark Church, Saint Catherine Church, Carıklı Church and Tokalı Church. The archaeological site was opened to visitors in 1967.

Travel Tip: Visit the Dark Church whose walls were long protected by pigeon droppings.


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