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Goreme Open Air Museum

Goreme Open Air Museum

Goreme National Park

Goreme and Goreme Open Air Museum has a great historical and archaeological importance. The valleys of Gorme in Cappadocia are quite famous for its Caves, monasteries and churches. The amazing landscape of Goreme valleys were made up by volcanic tuff, owes its existence to the activity of Mt. Erciyes, an extinct volcano whose lava formations dominate the area. Wind and rain have worn the tuff formations into free-standing outcrops and rock-towers – ‘’fairy chimneys’’. There are many such outcrops in the region between Nevşehir, Ürgüp and Avanos, where rock-cut dwellings, churches and monasteries have long attracted the attention of travellers and scholars. The first accounts date from 19th century western travelers to the area.

Cave Monasteries

Rock-cut monasteries were first founded in the Goreme Open Air Museum by Basilius, archbishop of Caesareia, in the 4th century. Soon after the foundation of the first monasteries in the Valley of Goreme, they became the center of pilgrimage for Christians in search of physical and devotional succor.

The region was first named Korama according to the 6th century account of the life of St. Hieron. It is said that this Saint lived in a shelter carved out of the rock which was extremely difficult of Access. Since this account refers to a much earlier Saint, Hieron is not the earliest martyr to suffer death in these troglodyte shelters.

According to the English historian Skene, St. George was also of Cappadocia origin. It appears that the legends of Mount Erciyes and the snake.

Indeed, the dragon guarding a Magic plant is a common feature of Anatolian legends. St. George may be one of the various heroes who slay the mythical creature. This perhaps accounts for the frequency with dragon in the rock-cut churches of Goreme.

Christianity in Goreme

Goreme and Goreme Open Air Museum was an important center of Christianity during the 7th to 13th centuries. According to the chronicles of a 10th century monk who lived in the area, there were about 360 churches and monasteries of various sizes.

Most of the churches discovered to date contain frescos dating from the 9th to the 13th centuries, a time when the monasteries of the region enjoyed prosperity and tranquility. It followed a period of continual disturbance during which the Christians in the area suffered from sectarian disputes, the effects of iconoclasm and Arab invasions.


Although Cappadocia cannot be considered an artistic center as important as Byzantium, the monastic school created here possessed its own vitality and style. In Goreme Open Air Museum, one may encounter the frescos of monastic artists intent on giving devotional expression to the church where he himself prayed and the monastery where he lived. The visual images resulting from this simple devotion are not the Works of any particular school of art. It can be said that the effects of the style of the capital have combined with folk art to produce an art in which stylized forms of some sophistication are blended with naive drawings.

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