Göreme Open Air Museum

Cappadocia’s most famous attraction is Göreme Open Air Museum, a vast monastic complex with painted cave churches carved out by Orthodox monks (1000–1200 AD). Along with rectories, dwellings, and a religious school, they formed a large monastic complex carved out of a roughly ring-shaped rock formation and decorated it with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. The site holds the region’s best collection of painted cave-churches, and the frescoes’ colors still retain all their original freshness. The frescoes are also unique examples of rock-hewn architecture and fresco technique.

There are many churches and chapels in Göreme Open Air Museum but the most important ones are the Nunner, St. Barbara Chapel, the Apple Church, St. Basil Church, Snake Church, the Dark Church, Sandal Church, St. Catherine Chapel and Buckle Church. Most of them are fully painted inside with amazing Byzantine murals dating back to 900–1200 AD. Most of the frescoes have been damaged by wind, water, weather, earthquakes, and shepherd boys who sought refuge in the caves and used the faces in the figures as targets for pebble attacks (having been taught that images were sinful). But the beauty of the churches and their decoration still remain.

Göreme Open Air Museum has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1984, one of the first two UNESCO sites in Turkey.