Cappadocia Open Air Museum is a place worth seeing! This valley, where almost every rock block has been carved into places of worship, living, teaching, and sanctity combined with art in every aspect, was included in the Unesco World Heritage List in 1985.
Inside the Cappadocia Open Air Museum, there’re dozens of monastic churches and chapels to see. The painting techniques of the churches differ according to the period in which they were built. Geometric patterned painting in the Early Christian period, when life began in the valley, is replaced by religious painting later.
Where is Cappadocia Open Air Museum?
Cappadocia Open Air Museum Churches
Cappadocia Open Air Museum, which unites different races and languages like a roof for centuries, has different importance in religious art history. Small and large churches form a vast monastic complex.
In the Cappadocia Open Air Museum, apart from 11 dining halls and churches that can be visited, there are 18 churches whose entrances are closed with iron bars due to the danger of collapse at any moment.
Convent of Nuns and Priests
Only two floors of the 7-story Nuns Monastery carved into the rocks, located on the left at the Cappadocia Open Air Museum entrance, can be visited. Connections were made with tunnels between the floors of the monastery.
The connections between the floors of the Monks’ Monastery, which is opposite the Nuns Monastery and has four floors in total, have been closed due to erosion. Only a few rooms on the ground floor could be opened to visitors.
St. Basil’s Chapel
The chapel dedicated to St. Basil, located at the Cappadocia Open Air Museum entrance, is also one of the most important works. There are graves of essential people in the narthex, which is separated from the main part of the church by columns.
Elmali Church is one of the most important churches of the Cappadocia Open Air Museum, located to the entrance right after the Girls Monastery. The cruciform church was built with three apses, four columns, and nine domes. Each of the domes has been a symbol of different religious teachings.
The church’s painting, restored in the 1990s, was repainted by the original, and the frescoes that lost their color were not touched.
According to a rumor, the square shapes resembling checkers on the entrance door of the Snake Church were a method of drawing lots by the Roman soldiers. They wanted to share their goods after the crucifixion of Jesus.
One of the goods of Jesus is written in each square, and the stone thrown by the soldiers from afar comes to the square where the soldier takes that property. The unfinished architecture in the small church was because it was believed that the death of a saint or saint during its construction brought bad luck.
It is a church that only gets light through a tiny window, but it is still dark. The most excellent favor that darkness has done is that the painting and depictions have survived to the present day without being destroyed. The church can be entered through a passage with stairs.
St. Catherine’s Chapel
It is estimated that a Christian donor named Anna built the free cross-planned, central domed chapel containing 11 tombs. According to legend, Saint Catherine was an Egyptian monk who dreamed of Jesus, and when she woke up, she found his ring on her finger. Anna had this chapel built out of homage to St. Catherine.
In the chapel, the arms of the cruciform architecture were made with barrel vaults, and the figures were used only in the naos section, which is called the sacred section. The corners of the dome, called pendants, are decorated with geometric reliefs.
The chapel, in which scenes from the Bible and depictions of saints are frequently used, is dated to the 11th century and is located between the Dark Church and the Carikli Church.
The Carikli Church is located on the same rock mass as the Dark Church. Despite similarities to the Elmali and Dark Church, the scenes depicting the crucifixion and removal of Jesus from the cross show differences.
The long and large depiction of each figure on the frescoes in the church is one of the features that make the church unique.
Buckled Church (Tokali)
Although Buckled Church is outside the Cappadocia Open Air Museum, it’s the largest and the oldest rock church in the region, which can be visited with a museum ticket.