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Göreme Open Air Museum

Göreme Yolu
+90 384 271 21 67
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Cave Church Göreme  Turkey

Cave Church

If you go to Cappadocia, Turkey, the Göreme Open Air Museum is worth a visit. The museum is a collection of cave churches carved out by Orthodox monks from about 900 AD to 1200 AD.

The monks really went all out to try and make the cave churches look and feel like “real” churches. A few of them are carved in the floor plan of a typical church and others have faux architectural features like columns and arched, vaulted ceilings. All of the churches have painted frescoes, some more beautiful and elaborate than others in design.

Undoubtedly, the most beautiful of the cave churches is the Dark Church (Karanlık Kilise) which dates back to the 12th century. The church is so named because there is only one small window, opposite the apse, that light can shine in through. Because of the relative darkness, the colors of the frescoes, which depict scenes from the New Testament, are as vibrant today as they were centuries ago.

Until the 1950’s, the Dark Church was used as a pigeon coop and apparently, it took 14 years to scrape all the poop off the frescoes. Even though the frescoes have been restored, one sign of damage has been left untouched and that is the gouged out eyes of the figures. It’s believed this was done by the Turks who are superstitious of the "evil eye."

The Open Air Museum is located a short a 15-minute walk (1.5 km) from the village of Göreme and a short taxi ride (6.5 km) from the town of Ürgüp.

Practice taking photos in low light before you go!