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Churchs of Cappadocia

Goreme Open Air Museum

The Goreme Open Air Museum has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1984, and is one of the first two UNESCO sites in Turkey. It is a huge monastery complex, consisting of dozens of monasteries, located side by side, each with its own, unusual church and its history. This place is so incredible that you can safely recommend it to visit any traveler who came to Cappadocia. The museum is located in its very heart. Getting to this unique place is very easy. The museum is only 10 minutes walk (1.5 km) from the village of Goreme itself. This is a huge historical complex occupying a large territory. Here you can find the best of rock churches with unique frescoes and wall paintings, where the colors still retained their original freshness, as well as see amazing examples of rock architecture and incredible frescoes technique. There you will find eleven rare refectory, with tables and benches carved into the rock. Each of the refectory refers to a particular church. Most of them belong to the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries.


Among the many objects of the Museum, the most important are the Monastery of the Women. It is located on the left, immediately at the entrance to the museum, and looks like a large 6-7 storey boulder. On the first floor there is a dining room, a kitchen and several rooms, on the second floor there is a half-destroyed church. All these rooms are very well preserved and accessible to the public. But on the third floor you can only get through the tunnel, where you can see the dome of the church with four columns and three apses. Tyablo (wooden block used to install icons), which is on the main apse, is rarely seen in the churches of Goreme. There is also an amazing fresco of Jesus painted right on the rock, and many other drawings made in an unusual red and gold color. All levels of the monastery are connected by tunnels. Millstone doors (in the form of a stone circle), similar to those used in underground cities, still block the entrance to some tunnels. The main purpose of these round blocks is to close the entrance during the approach of danger.

Elmali Church (ElmaliKilise - Apple)

One of the most famous buildings. The church has a vaulted structure with a cross-square plan, four columns and a central dome. Partially preserved frescoes, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries, narrating about scenes from the Bible: the life of Christ, “The Hospitality of Abraham” and “The Three Youths”. Where the frescoes are not preserved, you can see the ornament, made in red color, which belongs to the period of iconoclasm. The church received its unusual name from the apple orchard, which was located in front of the main entrance.

Church of St. Barbara

This church is located right behind the Apple Church. It has a cruciform plan with two columns. Most of the drawings are made in red right on the rock. If we look in more detail, we can see that the images on the walls and the dome have different themes: from geometric patterns and mythological animals to military symbols. The church was built in the second half of the 11th century.

Church Yilanli (Yilanli Kilise - Snake)

This church has a linear plan and consists of two rooms. The first room has a semi-cylindrical vault, and in the second the ceiling is already flat. Amazing red and yellow ornaments, as well as beautiful frescoes dating from the 11th century, adorn the ceiling and walls. Opposite the entrance there is an image of Christ with a book in his hand, and to his left are Emperor Constantine and Helena. Next to them is no less amazing image - the killing of the snake by St. George and St. Theodore. On the opposite wall, one can observe Onuphrius with a sapling, the Apostle Thomas and the founder of the building, St. Basilius holding the book.

Karanlik Church (Karanlik Kale Kilisi - Dark Church)

This church dates back to the end of the 12th century. The entrance to it is located on the north side and passes through a winding tunnel that leads to a room with a semi-cylindrical vault. On the south side there are three graves: two large and one small. Dome-shaped ceiling, columns, an unusual ornament, drawings on the walls will not leave you indifferent, and for a moment they will be transferred to the past. Amazing scenes that you will see on the walls: Deesis, Annunciation, Journey to Bethlehem, Christmas, Baptism, Resurrection of Lazarus, Transfiguration, Entry into Jerusalem, The Last Supper, Betrayal of Judas, Crucifixion and Resurrection. Entry fee - 8 TL per person, but believe me, this place is worth seeing.

Karykla Church (Carikli Kilisi - Sandal)

This unusual church, with a cross-vault, has three apses and four domes. The well-preserved frescoes show the life of Jesus, the "Hospitality of Abraham", and other images of saints and church givers. Despite the fact that it reminds a bit of the Karanlyk Church (Karanlik) and the Apple Church (Elmali), the scenes of the “Cross