Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia

On your family trip to Cappadocia, Goreme Open Air Museum is a popular stop in Goreme. The painted cave churches are a special treat at this UNESCO World Heritage site. While there can be quite a bit of foot traffic through the site, a quick stop to see the Dark Church, Apple Church, and Sandal is worth adding to your trip itinerary

goreme open air museum cappadocia

Know Before You Go

COST

See the Museums of Turkey App

HOURS

8am - 7pm

BEST TIME TO GO

Year Round

LOCATION

Goreme, Cappadocia

PARKING

Free or Walk from Goreme

TIME NEEDED TO VISIT

1 hour

Goreme Open Air Museum Fast Facs

How to Get to the Goreme Open Air Museum

The museum in located in Goreme National Park. The museum is a short walk up the hill from the Goreme city center, making it an easy stop during your visit to Cappadocia. If you’re driving, there is a parking lot about 50 meters down the hill from the entrance of the museum.

To enter the museum, you can use your Turkey Museum Pass or pay the entrance fee at the gate. The ticket prices change regularly, so please check the Turkey Museum App for the most updated pricing and open hours.

goreme open air museum monastery

History of the Goreme Cave Churches

Goreme Open Air Museum is made up of cave churches painted Byzantine frescoes that speak of its monastic history under the leadership of the Kayseri Bishop of St. Basil. Many of the churches date back to as early as the 4th century AD. The area was used as a monastery to train and teach religious students until around the 13th century.

Goreme Open Air Museum contains 15 cave churches, all built around the 11th century.

The region of Cappadocia and Goreme National Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985

apple church goreme

What to See at Goreme Open Air Museum

Of all the churches located at Goreme Open Air Museum, the most famous are the Dark Church, Apple Church and Sandal Church. The church’s columned architecture and vibrant paintings make them the most visited at the museum.

Next, we’ll learn more about what to see when you visit the Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia

Convent and Monastery

When you first walk into the museum, you’ll see the convent over to the left. The convent stands 6-7 stories tall in the Goreme Open Air Museum, but you can only visit the first 3 floors. The convent is connected throughout with narrow tunnels similar to the underground cities in Cappadocia, like Derinkuyu and Kaymakli. Due to erosion and some of the rock collapsing, it is not safe to go further up. Next to the convent is a monastery, where you’ll find only the first 2 floors open to explore.

Buckle Church (Tokali Kilisesi)

The Tokali Church is Cappadocia’s largest and earliest cave church in Cappadocia, built around 960 AD. The church inspired other monasteries and churches to be built in the valley, which you can also see in the Goreme Open Air Museum.

dark church goreme cappdocia

Dark Church (Karanlik Kilisesi)

The Dark Church in Goreme Open Air Museum is one of the best-preserved churches in the museum. Due to its location and lack of sunlight, the Byzantine paintings on the church walls are vibrant in color. To protect the painting, you can no longer take photos inside the cave church. To enter the Dark Church, there is an additional entrance fee you will pay after you enter the Goreme Open Air Museum, so be sure to have cash on hand.

Apple Church (Elmali Kilisesi)

The Elmali Church is one of the most popular churches at the Goreme Open Air Museum. The Apple Church is painted in a similar style to the Dark Church and Sandal – most likely painted in the same time frame. The colors are vibrant with detailed story telling in each wall painting in the church. A few scenes you will see in the Apple Church:

  • Jesus Baptism and Transfiguration
  • Birth and Death of Jesus
  • Entry into Jerusalem
  • Last Supper

Sandal Church (Carikli Kilisesi)

The Sandal Church is an 11th-century church that shows detailed paintings at the Goreme Open Air Museum. The Sandal Church is part of the monastery built on the second floor of the complex. Below you’ll find the refectory with the 7-meter table and rock benches carved into the volcanic rock.

Church of St. Barbara

The Church of St. Barbara is decorated with red geometric designs and dates to around 1100 AD. The interior is made up of several columns and arched ceilings.

Snake Church (Yilanli Kilisesi)

The Snake Church was originally carved to be the entry to a much larger church but was not completed. The cave church is a small room with several simple paintings including saints, St. Basil, St. Thomas, and Jesus.

goreme cappadocia

When to Go

You can visit the Goreme Open Air Museum year round. If you go in the summer months which are also the high season for tourism, we suggest going in the morning. The site can get crowded and it gets hot in the afternoons. 

zelve open air museum cappadocia

Sites Near Goreme Open Air Museum

Zelve Open Air Museum

Zelve Open Air Museum rivals Goreme Open Air Museum in its history and sites to visit. Zelve Valley was known as a monastery although its churches do not have the colorful paintings of the Goreme Open Air Musuem.  Zelve is a great morning stop to hike through after visiting Goremem Open Air Museum.

Pasabag Fairy Chimneys

About a 5-minute drive from Zelve Open Air Museum is the fairy chimneys of Pasabag. You can stop and park, then wander paths through the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia.

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloons

Goreme is home to the takeoff and landing spots of the sunrise hot air balloon rides. Plan on taking a ride in a hot air balloon or get up early to see hundreds of balloons in the sky at sunrise.

Read our Top 10 Things to Do in Cappadocia

Final Thoughts on Goreme Open Air Museum

Ultimately, Goreme Open Air Museum is a wonderful stop to enjoy the paintings of the popular Dark Church, Apple Church, and Sandal Church. While there are a lot of visitors to the open air museum, you can easily make a quick stop and take 30 minutes to an hour to see the most popular cave churches.

Also, don’t miss our route guide on how to get from Antalya to Cappadocia and everything you can do along the way. 

What to See at Goreme Open Air Museum

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Family Travel to Turkey: Enes and Dania

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