Must See Churches, Monasteries and Chapels in Cappadocia

Cappadocia can be considered as a region that has been one of the most important residential and worship places for Christianity in the world between the 8th and 13th centuries. There are variety of great churches in Cappadocia spread through the valleys, ancient settlement areas, national parks and historical places of Cappadocia.

Must See Churches, Monasteries and Chapels in Cappadocia

Cappadocia, an extraordinary kingdom of unique cultures, once hosted many empires on its exquisite geography emerged from volcanic eruptions, including Hittites, the Persians, the Seljuks, the Ottoman Empire, and more, blending them peacefully in a magical way, unlike any place you’ve ever seen in the world.

Rock cut church and its frescos with a view over the volcanic formations in the background, in Cappadocia

Its cultural and historical significance, together with 429 registered historic structures and 64 protected areas belonging to 10 different civilizations, Cappadocia made it to UNESCO World Heritage List, too.

The churches along the Cappadocia region are all unique and worth visiting for their artwork, architecture, and historical significance. Whether you’re interested in religious history or art, Cappadocia offers a wealth of fascinating sites to explore.

Churches at the Goreme Open Air Museum in Goreme

The Goreme Open Air Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cappadocia. This UNESCO World Heritage site features a collection of cave churches and monasteries carved into the soft rock.

Goreme Open Air Museum hosts the most important Byzantine cave churches in the world that where the monks and nuns pursued monastic life. The frescoes inside the churches are well-preserved and provide a glimpse into the religious life of the area’s inhabitants in the 10th-12th centuries.

Travelers may see the best preserved Byzantine cave wall paintings and frescos from the Iconoclastic period through to the end of Seljuk era, together with icons with scenes from the Old Testament and the New Testament above portraits of church fathers and saints depict the structure of the Byzantine universe.

The Elmali (Apple) Church, Dark Church, Tokali (Buckle) Church, Yilanli (Serpent) Church, El Nazar Church, Saint Basil Chapel, Santa Barbara Chapel and Santa Catherine Chapel are the popular churches and chapels that worth a visit and see.

Karanlik Dark Church

The Dark Church is one of the most well-preserved and intricate cave churches in the Goreme Open Air Museum. It features stunning frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible, and visitors are required to pay an additional fee to enter and view the art. One of the most visited churches in Cappadocia.

Frescoes in the Dark Church (Karanlik Kilise) ruin in Goreme open air museum
A beautiful fresco showing the Crucifiction of Christ at the Karanlik Kilise (Dark Church) at the Open Air Museum at Goreme in Cappadocia in Turkey. The frescos date from the late 12th century to the early 13th century.

Elmali Apple Church

The Apple Church is located in the village of Sinasos and dates back to the 9th century. It features a well-preserved fresco of Jesus holding an apple, which is a unique feature not found in many other churches in the region.

Frescos and murals in ancient cave Apple Church or Elmali Kilise painted in directly onto rock
Elmali Kilise (or the Apple Church) a smaller cave church. Was built around 1050AD and has carved into four irregular pillars the sign of a Greek cross with these pillars support it s central dome.

Tokali Church of the Buckle

The Tokali Church (also known as the Church of the Buckle) is one of the most important and impressive churches in the Goreme Open Air Museum. It features intricate frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible and the life of Jesus, as well as a stunning apse mosaic.

A section of the incredible Buckle Tokali Church located at the Open Air Museum at Goreme in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. The Christian frescoes date from the 10th century.
Ancient mural painting in Tokali Kilise Church of the Buckle in Goreme, Cappadocia

Yilanli Snake Church

The Yilanli Snake Church is located in the Goreme Open Air Museum and features frescoes of saints and Biblical scenes, as well as a unique depiction of St. George slaying a dragon.

A fresco depicting St George and St Theodore in Yilanli (Snake) Church at the Open Air Museum near Goreme in the Cappadocia region of Turkey

El Nazar Church

The El Nazar Church is located in the Goreme Open Air Museum and features frescoes of the crucifixion and other Biblical scenes. The church is unique because it also has a small mosque adjacent to it, highlighting the region’s rich cultural and religious history. Also one of the most visited churches in Cappadocia.

Fresco Christian Decoration on Ceiling background in cave orthodox El Nazar Old Church at the Goreme open air museum Cappadocia
Interior of the temple. El Nazar church in the rock. Unique painting with scenes from the gospel.

Chapels in Pasabag Monks Valley– between Avanos and Goreme

The three capped fairy chimney situated at the center of the Pasabag Monks valley is the famous fairy chimney chapel where Saint Simeon has lived there in seclusion for 15 years.

Churches in Rose Valley (Gulludere)– near Goreme

Rose Valley separates into two paths. One leads to the chambers of the monks that were in seclusion and the other one leads to the popular Church of Three Crosses and Ayvali (Quince) Church

Church of Three Crosses

The Church of Three Crosses is a small cave church with frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible and the life of Jesus. It’s named after the three crosses depicted in the church’s frescoes.

Church of Three Crosses with early orthodox christian fresco in the Rose Valley in Cappadocia, Turkey, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Church Of Three Crosses in Rose valley, Cappadocia
Church of the Cross, Crusader Church at Rose valley, Cappadocia

Ayvali Church

The Ayvali Church features well-preserved frescoes of saints and scenes from the Bible. It’s a smaller church but worth visiting for its intricate artwork and unique architecture.

Destroyed interior of Ayvali Church with early ortodox christian fresco in the Rose Valley in Cappadocia

Churches in Swords (Kiliclar) Valley– near Goreme

The Kiliclar Church and Virgin Mary Church are the two beautiful churches that worth a visit and see at the Swords Valley.

Churches in Cavusin Village

Cavusin is pretty small village and one of the oldest settlements of the region situated along the Goreme-Avanos road. The Saint Yahya Church and the Cavusin Church are also other popular churches that worth a visit and see.

Sunset view of the Cavusin fortress and church Vaftizci Yahya, Saint John the Baptist in Cappadocia, Turkey

The Cavusin Church is decorated with moments in which important events of the period are told and pictures of important people. In addition, the Church of St. John The Baptist, dating back to the 5th century, is the oldest among the churches you should visit in the village.

Churches in Zelve Valley– between Avanos and Goreme

There are about 15 churches at the Zelve Valley and the churches of Uzumlu (the Church with Grapes), Balikli (the Church with Fishes) and Geyikli (the Church with the Deer) are also one of the most popular fairy chimney churches that worth a visit and see in Cappadocia.

Uzumlu Church with the Grape

The Uzumlu Church (also known as the Church with the Grape) features frescoes depicting the life of Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. It’s unique because of its depiction of grapevines, which was a common motif in the region’s Byzantine art.

The church with the grape in Zelve Valley, Cappadocia

Churches, Monasteries and Chapels in and around Ihlara Valley

Ancient churches along Ihlara Valley

The St.George Church and Kirkdamalti Church are the must see churches in the Ihlara Valley.

Destroyed interior of the Saint George Church with early ortodox christian fresco in Ihlara Valley in Cappadocia

Selime Monastery – 1 km. after Yaprakhisar village on the exit of Ihlara Valley

Selime Monastery is a complex of chapels and dwellings carved into the rock near the town of Selime. The complex includes a number of tunnels and passageways, and visitors can climb up to the top of the complex for a stunning view of the surrounding area.

Selime Monastery is one of the largest religious buildings in Cappadocia.

The famous Selime Monastery was one of the biggest and most fascinating religious settlements in Cappadocia. The Monastery was carved into the rock by monks in the 13th century.

Caves in rock in Selime Monastery, Ihlara Valley, Cappadocia

Book Your Balloon Ride

Below you can find our recommendations. Each company directly operates the hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia with their team of experts. So you will book your flight directly from the company. No men in the middle.

Read More

Related Reading

Local Recommendations from Cappadocia4U team

If youʻre visiting Cappadocia for the first time, we have you covered. Below are some of the top recommendations, tours and experiences!

Some useful info

  • Cappadocia is the name of the region situated in the middle of Turkey. It is mostly known by the three popular towns of Goreme, Urgup and Uchisar but actually it is the name of the very big region spread through the cities of Nevsehir, Kirsehir, Nigde, Aksaray and Kayseri.
  • If you are first-time visitor, want to get familiar, please read our Cappadocia for first timers guide.
  • If you are not sure how to travel, please read our Traveling to Cappadocia guide.
  • If you don't know where to stay, please read our Where to Stay in Cappadocia guide for regions, and Accommodation guide for hotels.
  • If it is hard to plan your days, please read our Ideal 3-Days Cappadocia itinerary.

Top Attractions & Sights

There are 6 must do and see in Cappadocia that you won't want to miss!

  1. Hot Air Balloon Rides (the most exciting attractions in the world)
  2. Goreme Open Air Museum (some best-preserved examples of Byzantine rock-cut architecture and frescoes in the world)
  3. Pasabag Monks Valley (one of the most popular fairy chimneys areas)
  4. Uchisar Castle (highest point, the biggest fairy chimney)
  5. Derinkuyu Underground City (one of the largest underground cities in the world, 8th century BC)
  6. Ihlara Valley (fantastic canyon with a depth of about 100 mt. and 14 km. length)

Tip-1: One of the best ways to explore Cappadocia is by taking a sightseeing tour, so that you can cover all the top sights. Three main sightseeing tours available: Red Tour (covers the highlights of the region), Green Tour (best of natural and historical sites), and Blue Tour (lesser-known sights, off-the-beaten-path experience)

Tip-2: Private Tours are also good choice within a well-planned and custom itinerary along with a private vehicle, driver and professional guide. Great for those who don't have a car or don't know the region well.

For leisure activities we'd recommend 2 must-take attractions! Don't miss! Wine Tasting and Photo Shooting