Churches around Goreme Open Air Museum

There are many churches around the Goreme Open Air Museum. The most commonly known structures are Tokali Church, Saint Eusthatios Church, Saint Daniel Chapel, Madonna (Virgin Mary) Church, Kiliglar Church, El Nazar Church, Sakli Church and Aynali Church.

Tokali Church: It is located on the right side of the road around 50 km down to the Goreme direction from the entrance of the Goreme Open Air Museum. It can be said that it is the best example to be seen among the Cappadocian churches with its excellent painting technique, colors, and harmony of the subjects. We can observe that Cappadocian art has reached its peak with Tokali Church. The church comes as a collection of buildings. It has gained the final form as a result of enlargement of an old church with additional sections. Today, the church consists of four sections. The first section is the old small church with single apsis. The second section is bigger new church. The third section is another church located under the old one and reached by a staircase. The fourth section consists of a side chapel located just beside the new church. Only the old and new churches have frescoes. The old church that forms the entrance of the new one is seen as an arched passage as the apsis was collapsed during enlargement works. The pictures were painted in 10th century. Here we can see several scenes from the life of Jesus figured one within the other. Paintings themselves in this section associate a form peculiar to local and folk art. Gursel Korat calls attention to paintings showing figures sitting cross-legged around a dining table on the ground, and mentions the importance of understanding the case that is not a Turkish tradition. The first thing that attracts our attention when we enter to new church part of the Tokali Church is the diversity of the color lapis blue used in the paintings. It is necessary to mention that the frescoes of the Tokali Church are getting lost briskness gradually year by year. I’ve first entered to this church in 1987; after 20 years that is a short period of time, I’ve observed that the frescoes have lost briskness in a certain ratio. I think that the issue should be urged to be considered. The new church is rectangular. On the longer edge just opposite of the entrance there are three apsises supported by small columns. Paintings and scenes among the themes of the frescoes there are largely about life of Jesus and life of Saint Basileos. The history of the frescoes goes back to 10th and 11th centuries.

Saint Eusthatios Church: It is possible to reach the church through a footpath separated from a Tokali Church. The entrance of the church is 4 m high from the base. The entrance is come up by a stairway. It has a rectangular plan and single apsis. There is an altar on the middle of the apsis. The church was enlarged by adding a grave chapel. There are graves in this section. The church was built in 1148 that is understood by scraped date on the wall. Red and green colors are dominant in the frescoes. There is a figure of Saint Eusthatios on the right side of the apsis wall.

Saint Daniel Chapel: It is very close to the Saint Eusthatios Church. Its door is closed with an iron-grid fence. The structure is a grave chapel with rectangular plan and singular apsis. It is called as Saint Daniel based on the figure of Saint Daniel among lions, and figures of Daniel with Jesus. The date of frescoes is 11th century. Some of the drawings are said to belong the icon-breaking Iconoclasm period. The Madonna Church: If you follow the pathway split from the Tokali Church you can reach the Madonna Church. It is far from the main road around 250 m. The church is also known as Kihglar Kusluk Church. It is located to see whole Kihglar Valley. The church is entered through a 5 m long narrow passage. It has an interesting architecture with rectangular plan and three apsises. The right apsis is destroyed by the effect of land erosion. The name of the church comes from the frescoes of the Virgin Mary repeated in different places of the church. Travel to Bethlehem, nativity, Jesus crucified, death of the Madonna can be seen at different sides of the church. A figurative description of Saint Basileos who has been accepted as one of the three great saints of the Cappadocia can be seen as well on the left apsis. Kihglar Church: It takes the name from the valley in which the church located. It is on the right side of the road from the Goreme Open Air Museum to Goreme city. And, it is situated 600 m far on the north¬eastern direction from the museum entrance. The church was constructed in the form of closed-Greek-cross with three apsises, and it has a dome stands on four pillars. You can see many themes in the church which is very rich of frescoes. The date of the frescoes goes back to 9th and 10th centuries.

El Nazar Church: In order to reach the church, it is necessary to track the route which follows the dry stream bed below the buffet on the right side of the road in 500 m distance to the Open Air Museum direction. If you forward 800 m then a signboard directs you to the right direction. You can reach to the church after 250 m. The church in a vineyard was built by carving inside a conical fairy chimney. Damaged parts of the church are now repaired by restoration works. Frescoes are dated to 11th and 12th centuries. There are graves carved to the base on the eastern wing of the cross form church. Scenes like good news, visit, nativity, baptism, entrance to Jerusalem, and of ascension of Jesus are engraved in the chronologically juxtaposed frescoes. There are figures of saints on the sides of medallions are seen as well.

Sakli (Hidden) Church: After you reach the El Nazar Church then you can see the Sakli Church which is very close to the El Nazar. The church has rectangular plan with three apsises, and the entrance gate faces to the Zemi Valley. Frescoes, depicted directly on smoothened rock, not on plaster, date back to 11th century. It is very interesting with this specialty. The fresco of crucifixion at the main space attracts attention. There are also scenes depicting the annunciation, the nativity, the presentation of Jesus at the temple, the baptism of Jesus by John, the Baptist, Mary’s death and some saints. The church is locked so you should ask for help from the officer of El Nazar Church.

Aynah (with Mirror) Church: It is located on quite upside of the road of Goreme to Ortahisar, and inside a vineyard on the right side. It can be accessed by a short pathway split from the main road. Here we see a group of buildings. The structure with dormitory, dining hall, kitchen and food stores was constructed as two storeys. The storeys are connected to each other by tunnels. Aynah Church consists of two sections. One of the sections was used as a church, and the other was used for meeting purposes. The church stands on four columns and has single apsis. There are no frescoes inside except red colored simple geometrical drawings. The section which was used for meetings is called ‘Firkatan’. So, some of the resources mention the name of the church as Firkatan Church as well. In this section, there can be seen some simple ornaments. There is an interesting cross symbol created by connection of four epsilon symbols on the left side of the door which connects the two sections. Gursel Korat has signifies that this drawing can not be found anywhere else in Cappadocia except this church.

Churches and other structures at the town center and periphery

This building group is located in an easy walking distance from the Goreme town center. Most of the components are located in the Orta Neighborhood.

Roman Grave: This grave room constructed on a high rock cone in Goreme center comes from the Roman period. In the forth side of the grave room, facing to outside, a square frame was formed and two pillars erected and a monumental view came into the picture. But, lower parts of the grave are destroyed, and pillars are broken down.

Durmus Kadir Church: This structure with basilica plan and impressive architecture is located in the entrance of theAvcilar Valley. The area is also called Kesisderesi, name of the owner of vineyard. The building with rectangular plan and three apsises stands on 6 columns. Main church section is accessed through a grave chapel. There is no fresco inside. A stone rostrum being ascended by three steps was designed as an architectural element during engraving of the church. The church was constructed during 0h and 7th century.

Yusuf Kog Church: This church is situated on a high fairy chimney in the same area as The Durmus Kadir Church is located. The church was opened to visits after being used as a dovecote for a long period of time. And, the name comes from the name of the owner. The church has two apsises and stands on 6 columns. Some of the columns are broken. Kog Church is the only structure with frescoes among the churches handled here. Predominantly descriptions of saints attract our attention. The frescoes were drawn in 11 fh century.

Bezirhane (Linseed oil house): It is located in a place in the entrance of Avcilar Valley and closer to the Goreme-Ughisar road. The church is a big structure and has a high interior space elevated by three columns. As the building used to be used as a linseed oil house interior walls are darkened by soot. There is no fresco inside the churchr’

Zemi Deresi (Brook) Valley: It is oneof the known trekking courses of the Cappadocia. There is an entrance to the Zemi Valley from the Babaccik area on the 10th km of the asphalt paved road from Urgup to Nevsehir. In this point, there is a signboard showing the entrance to the valley. The valley starts here and extends to the Goreme-Ortahisar asphalt paved road. It is also possible to enter the 5600 m long valley from the side of the Goreme Open Air Museum. But, if you like to walk the whole valley I recommend starting on the other side for a more comfortable walk. There is a steep part needs attention to pass through. Except this part walking through the valley is quite easy and pleasant. You can see the churches of Karabulut and Sarnig close to each other towards the middle of the valley. Towards the end of the valley there are El Nazar and Sakli churches. In this part impressive fairy chimneys and Gorkiindere Valley can be visited. Walking in the Zemi Valley is ending by the side of the buffet on the Goreme-Ortahisar paved road. If you turn left in this point, forward 500 m, and again turn right you will see the Goreme Open Air Museum.

 Karabulut (Dark Cloud) Church: If you follow the above mentioned route approximately 2.5 km starting from Zemi Valley beginning, and forward 100 m left split pathway, then you will be in front of the church. As the church is not included in tourist lines of travel, you can find it by company of a local guide. History of the church goes back to 11th century.

Sarnig (Cistern) Church: The church, located about 200 from Karabulut Church, was used as a water cistern for a while. Today, water traces in the church still can be seen. Solidity and richness of the frescoes, especially on the upper side of the church with single apsis, are interesting. Along with the scenes such as the annunciation, the nativity, the betrayal and the crucifixion, various saints’ depictions in medallions can be seen. The church was constructed in 11th century.