The Cave Churches of Göreme in Cappadocia, Turkey
Arguably one of Cappadocia’s most famous attractions, the Göreme Open Air Museum is a complex of medieval painted cave churches carved by Orthodox monks several hundreds of years ago.
There are over 10 cave churches in the Göreme Open Air Museum, many are painted with beautiful and historically important Byzantine murals that date as far back as the 9th century.
As we explored the UNESCO World Heritage Site and its unusual cave churches, we noticed that although the Byzantine frescoes are in remarkablygood condition, many of the faces and hands are scratched out.
This seemed very odd to us.
We were told that the reasoning for this was because superstitious inhabitants were afraid of the Evil Eye that would bring them bad fortunes (faces in pictures were considered bad luck).
The HD video below was taken inside the infamous Dark Church (also known as Karanlik Kilise), arguably the best preserved and most impressive in the outdoor museum. The frescoes are a wonderful example of 11th-century Byzantine art and had us visualizing what life must have been like nearly a thousand years ago.
Are you having trouble seeing the video?
Click here to view – Dark Church, Goreme Open Air Museum
The photo below is of the exterior of the Dark Church. The carvings are quite extraordinary and reminded us of the lost city of Petra in Jordan, only much smaller (although Cappadocia can certainly compete with Petra on the world wonder stage).
Interesting fact: After the Turkish invasion, the Dark Church was used as a pigeon house until 1950s. It took over 14 years to scrape off all the pigeon droppings! The pigeon droppings helped protect the frescoes, resulting in some of the best preserved in all of Cappadocia.
The exterior of the Dark Church in the Göreme Open Air Museum
Below: views of the Göreme Open Air Museum
Ancient cities carved into the peculiar rock formations of Cappadocia
How did they do that? Seriously!?
Have you visited the Goreme Valley in Cappadocia? What did you think?
Share your story in the comments section below!
Goreme and Cappadocia – wonderful part of the the world – loved it when I was there. The rock houses, chapels and the underground towns are awesome. Great photos…
Traveling Canucks says
Thanks. We really enjoyed our time there – such an interesting and unique place!
Lisa @chickybus says
Cool shots! I was there a few years ago and loved it. Really trippy and unique!
Hi, love to see these photos. My fam and I visited Goreme 2 months ago and still the mystical beauty of Cappadocia haunting me everytime I see pictures of that area 🙂
BTW, is there any LIBRARY in the dark church? because we didn;t go inside it, and as long as I remember we were told that there was a library in there.
I visited Turkey several years ago. Spent 12 days traveling the country. Which by the way is not near enough time. Other than the many wonderful people I met throughout the country the Goreme area was my favorite. The walking tour was fantastic and is the best way to fully experience the cave dwellings. Of course the Dark Church was an experience in its self. I also would strongly suggest the morning hot air ballon ride. For those like myself that are terrified of heights all I can tell you is to try it. I really thought I would be sitting no cowering in the bottom of the basket but it was just the opposite. Some how the sensation of free floating was very different than standing on a ledge or looking off bridge. I was able to stand and enjoy the entire trip. Anyway I would strongly recommend a trip to this wonderful country to anyone.