Goreme Open Air Museum, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985, draws attention with its unique monuments in the world. You can find information about the history of Goreme in this article. In addition, Goreme Open Air Museum entrance fee and opening hours are also noted.
The settlements in Goreme consist of churches, chapels, monasteries and social spaces carved into the rocks in a valley. The most unique examples of Christian art can be seen in the works here. According to art historians, the geometric ornaments used in churches in Europe first appeared in churches and chapels in the Goreme.
History of Goreme Valley
The history of Goreme Valley goes back to the Hittites. However, most of the buildings that we can see today are from Roman and Byzantine periods. It is possible to see the traces of early Christian history starting from the period when Christianity spread in Rome.
Although some archaeological finds in the region show that life dates back to ancient times, the Roman Empire‘s prohibition of Christianity made the region even more attractive to people. The Christians fleeing the persecution of the Romans began to settle in rock caverns and tunnels. The first religious structures in the region emerged in this way.
Goreme maintained its religious function throughout the Middle Ages as well. Indeed, we know that most of the religious structures in the region were built between the 11th and 13th centuries. This is because the monk’s life became popular during the Byzantine Empire. Many people who wanted to live ascetic life by devoting themselves to Christianity have migrated here and joined the monasteries.
Famous Saints of Ancient Anatolia
Many famous saints who lived in the early period of Christianity were born and raised in ancient Anatolia. Therefore, some cities located in Turkey are on the Christian pilgrimage route. The most important of these are Ephesus, Demre, Cappadocia and Antakya.
For example, St. Nicholas, commonly known as “Santa Claus” in the world, lived in Demre (Antalya). St. George, one of the most important saints of Christianity, was born in Cappadocia. The cave church founded by St. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, can still be seen in Antioch (Antakya).
In addition to these, there was St. Simeon, whose name is identified with both Antioch and Cappadocia. Saint Simeon was a monk who spent his life on a column in Syria (near Aleppo).
Simeon, who devoted his existence to Jesus, introduced a new definition of the concept of monkhood. There are churches in both Cappadocia and Antakya dedicated to the saint known as Simeon Stylites.
However, the most important church leader who marked the history of Cappadocia was a famous cleric named St. Basil the Great. Saint Basil, who lived in the same period as the other saints listed above, was born in 330 in Caesarea (Kayseri).
Basil, who gave a new shape to the early monastery life, gathered the churches in Goreme under a new discipline. These rules, which reorganize the monastery life in early Christianity, are called The Rule of Saint Basil.
Rock Churches to Visit in Goreme
There are beautiful rock churches to visit in Goreme Open Air Museum. You can find some of these churches listed below, which offer us important clues about the medieval monastic life.
1. Saint Barbara Church
Saint Barbara Church is dedicated to a faithful woman who was persecuted by her father in early Christianity. Despite the tortures she suffered, the woman who remained faithful to the Christian faith became one of the early Christian martyrs.
The Christ Pantocrator fresco draws attention in the cross-planned church. Saint Barbara’s Church is a mysterious church with frescoes featuring animal figures like grasshoppers, dragons and snakes.
2. Elmali (Apple) Church
Elmali (Apple) Church is one of the rock churches dating back to the 12th century. Religious stories such as the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus’ last supper, Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem, and Jesus’ descent to hell were depicted on the ceiling of the church.
The Elmali Church is a cross-planned building with 9 domes supported by four columns. Considering its age, this church is still in good condition today.
3. Yilanli (Snake) Church
Yilanli (Snake) Church was built in 11th century and takes its name from the painting of St. George. This is known as the Snake Church because the green dragon that St. George fought was thought to be a serpent.
There are frescos on the walls and ceiling of the church, depicting scenes from the Bible. Although the frescoes of the church are not of the best quality, they reflect the spiritual atmosphere of the period.
4. Tokali (Buckle) Church
Tokali (Buckle) Church is the largest cave church in Goreme. It consists of four separate sections. Among these sections the most impressive frescoes can be seen in the Old Church and the New Church.
The frescoes depicting the most important events in the Bible are still alive. The most distinctive feature that distinguishes the frescoes in Tokali Church is the use of a very vivid shade of blue.
5. Karanlik (Dark) Church in Goreme
The Karanlik (Dark) Church, which has the best preserved Christian frescoes in Cappadocia, will be the most important part of your visit to the Goreme Open Air Museum. A separate ticket is required for entrance to the Dark Church.
The most important feature of the Dark Church is that it has one of the most beautiful depictions of Christ Pantocrator in Anatolia. You can see this magnificent mosaic in many books promoting Cappadocia.
Goreme Open Air Museum Entrance Fee 2023
Goreme Open Air Museum entrance fee is 150 Turkish Liras as of 2023. This ticket is valid at Goreme national park and rock churches. However, an extra ticket is required for the Dark Church. This information was last updated on January 3, 2023.
Guided Tour Tickets for Goreme Open Air Museum
You can purchase guided tour tickets for the Goreme Open Air Museum. These tickets are more expensive than the standard museum ticket, but give you the advantage of fast track. You can also join a small group and tour Goreme with a guide.
If you want to book a Goreme guided tour ticket, you can buy tickets here. Tickets are sold under the guarantee of GetYourGuide, an international travel site. You can cancel the tour up to 24 hours and get a full refund.
Goreme Open Air Museum Opening Hours 2023
Goreme Open Air Museum opening hours are between 08:00 and 19:00 in the summer season. The summer season starts on 1 April and continues until 1 October. In the winter season it closes two hours earlier and no visitors are allowed after 17:00.
Visiting hours at the museums in Turkey may change each season. For this reason, you can visit the official website of the Goreme Museum and check the latest status.
Goreme Open Air Museum has a unique heritage and therefore it is among the must-see places in Cappadocia. Goreme offers very important clues about the history of Christianity.
In addition, you can review the popular accommodation options in the region from the best cave hotels in Cappadocia article. Hotels carved into the rocks provide you with a unique experience.
Finally, you can read the article about hot air balloon tours in Cappadocia, about balloons, which is the most popular activity in Cappadocia. Finally, if you want to buy a guided group ticket to the Goreme Open Air Museum, you can book from this address.
Written by Serhat Engul