Goreme Open Air Museum (2024 Guide with Tickets Advice)


Goreme Open Air Museum is a rocky settlement area that has hosted an extreme monastery life between 4th to 13th centuries D.C.. Being UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, the Goreme Open Air Museum is also one most popular places to see in Cappadocia. Whether you’re a history buff or an art lover, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the rich cultural and religious heritage of Cappadocia.

Researchers have been uncovering artifacts and ruins in the area for centuries, and the unique rock formations provide evidence of its ancient past with magical mystery. From ancient cities tucked into cliff-sides, underground pathways winding below the surface, and monolithic structures dotting the landscape – it’s a true paradise for those of us that are history buffs!


Top Facts

  • The Goreme Open Air Museum was once a monastic complex. The site served as a center of religious and cultural activity for Christians living in the region during the Byzantine period.
  • The museum is home to some of the best-preserved examples of Byzantine rock-cut architecture and frescoes in the world. The buildings and artwork date back to the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries.
  • The museum’s main attraction is the Tokali Church, which features some of the most impressive frescoes in the region. The frescoes depict scenes from the Bible and the life of Jesus, and the church also features a stunning apse mosaic.
  • The museum features several other churches, chapels, and monasteries, each with its own unique architectural features and artwork. Visitors can explore these structures and learn about the history and significance of each one.
  • The museum is located in a beautiful natural setting, with striking rock formations and sweeping views of the surrounding valleys. Visitors can enjoy the scenery and take in the unique landscape of Cappadocia as they explore the museum.
  • The museum attracts thousands of visitors every year and is one of the most popular attractions in the region. It’s a must-see for anyone interested in history, art, or religious culture.
  • The museum is open year-round and offers guided tours in multiple languages. Visitors can learn about the history and significance of the museum’s buildings and artwork from knowledgeable guides.

Quick History

The Goreme Open Air Museum is a unique historical site located in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. It was established in the 4th century AD as a monastic complex for Christians who were seeking refuge from persecution.

The complex features several churches, chapels, and monasteries that were carved out of the soft volcanic rock that is found throughout the region. These structures served as important centers of religious and cultural activity for the Byzantine Christians who lived in Cappadocia from the 10th to the 12th centuries.

The frescoes and other artwork found within the buildings are some of the best-preserved examples of Byzantine rock-cut architecture and art in the world. The frescoes depict scenes from the Bible and the life of Jesus, and are notable for their intricate detail and vivid colors.

Over the years, the Goreme Open Air Museum fell into disrepair and was abandoned. However, it was restored in the 1950s and opened to the public as a museum. In 1985, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its historical and cultural significance.


Today, the Goreme Open Air Museum is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey, attracting visitors from around the world who are interested in the rich history and culture of the region. The museum is a fascinating testament to the enduring legacy of the Byzantine Christians who once inhabited Cappadocia, and is a must-see for anyone interested in history, art, or religion.

What to See?

You’ll experience and enjoy some well preserved, rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings dating from as early as the 10th century and the best examples of Byzantine art in Cappadocia. The region forms a valley including churches, chapels, dining halls and sitting rooms at the rock-cut blocks.

Goreme Open Air Museum hosts the most important Byzantine cave churches in the world that where the monks and nuns pursued monastic life.

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.


During the old times, as the locals had to worship and pray secretly, they had built their temples and sanctuaries to the valleys, riverbeds and rock-cut places that are hard to be found.

Churches

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 at the Goreme Open Air Museum.

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.

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 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 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 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.

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.

Visiting Hours & Admissions

Opening Hours

Open every day between 08:00-17:00.

Ticket Price

* Please double check the hours and admissions from muze.gov.tr 

How to Get to Goreme Open Air Museum?

Goreme Open Air Museum is situated in the heart of the Goreme town and Cappadocia. You can easily find transport operating there.

Contact Details

Address: Museum road, Goreme, Nevsehir, Turkey
Tel: +90 384 271 21 67

Goreme Open Air Museum Visiting Tips

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:

  1. Arrive early: The museum gets very busy, especially during the peak summer months. To avoid the crowds, try to arrive as early as possible, ideally when the museum opens in the morning. This will give you more time and space to explore the museum’s buildings and artwork without feeling rushed or crowded.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes: The museum is spread out over a large area, with many structures to explore. To make the most of your visit, wear comfortable walking shoes that will allow you to move around the site easily.
  3. Bring sunscreen and water: Cappadocia can get very hot, especially during the summer months. To stay comfortable and avoid sunburn, bring sunscreen and plenty of water to stay hydrated during your visit.
  4. Consider a guided tour: While it’s possible to explore the museum on your own, a guided tour can help you better understand the history and significance of the site. Guided tours are available in multiple languages and can be booked at the museum entrance.
  5. Respect the artwork: The frescoes and other artwork found within the museum’s buildings are incredibly old and delicate. To help preserve them for future visitors, avoid touching the walls or leaning against them, and be sure to follow any posted signs or guidelines.
  6. Plan for additional time: While the museum can be seen in a few hours, there’s a lot to see and explore in the surrounding area. Consider setting aside some extra time to explore the nearby valleys and other historical sites, or to simply relax and take in the beautiful scenery of Cappadocia.

By following these tips, you can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to the Goreme Open Air Museum, and get the most out of your time in Cappadocia.

Guided Tours

While it is possible to visit the Goreme Open Air Museum on your own, taking a guided tour can be an excellent way to enhance your experience and gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating historical site.

Here are some reasons why you may want to consider a guided tour:

  1. Skip-the-lines: Guided tours can also help you skip the line and avoid waiting in long queues to purchase tickets. Many tour operators offer skip-the-line access to the museum, which means you can bypass the ticket queue and head straight into the site with your guide. This can be a significant time-saver, especially during peak tourist season when the museum can be quite crowded.
  2. Expert knowledge: A knowledgeable guide can provide valuable insights into the history and architecture of the museum. They can also share interesting stories and facts about the various buildings and structures within the site.
  3. Context and interpretation: With a guide, you can gain a better understanding of the context and interpretation of the artwork and artifacts found within the museum. A guide can explain the significance of the frescoes, carvings, and other details, and provide context to help you understand the historical and cultural significance of the site.
  4. Time-saving: A guided tour can help you make the most of your time at the museum, ensuring that you don’t miss any of the key highlights. A guide can help you navigate the site efficiently and effectively, so you can see more and learn more in a shorter amount of time.
  5. Language support: If you don’t speak Turkish, a guided tour can help ensure that you don’t miss out on important information or context. Guides are often fluent in multiple languages and can provide translation services to help you fully understand the history and significance of the museum.
  6. Personalized experience: A guided tour can be tailored to your interests and preferences, allowing you to focus on specific areas or topics that are of most interest to you. Guides can also answer your questions and provide personalized recommendations for other activities or sites to visit in the area.

Top Selling Guided Tours & Tickets

Here we only suggest the proven ways and top rated ones with travelers’ comments. You can feel free to book one of the below top selling Goreme Open Air Museum Tours.

Free cancellation up to 24 hours before activity starts


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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