Göreme, situated 5 km from Avanos, is fonud in the area surrounded with valleys, within the Nevşehir-Ürgüp-Avanos triangle. The old names for Göreme are Korama, Matiana, Maccan and Avcilar. Since Göreme was referred as Korama in the earliest written document known from the 6th century, it is thought that that is the oldest name given to the place. In that document, it is said that St Hieron was born in Korama at the end of the 3rd century, was martyred in Melitene (modern Malatya) with his 30 friends and his hand was cut off and sent to his mother in Korama. A very big depiction of St.Hieron of Korama is found in the Tokalı (Buckle) Church in Göreme Open Air Museum.
It is believed that Göreme and its surroundings were used as a necropolis by the people of Vanessa (Avanos) in the Roman Periods. Both the monumental twin pillared Roman tomb hollowed out into a fairy chimney in the centre of Göreme and the presence of numerous tombs in the vicinity support that idea.
Göreme an important Christian centre in the early years of the Middle Ages, was a bishopric administered by Mokissos near Aksaray in the 11th and 13th centuries. Despite the vast numer of monasteries, churches and chapels in the vicinity of Göreme, there are not many inscriptions bearing dates. For this reason, these religious buildings are mainly dated according to the iconography or architectural features.
The Goreme Open Air Museum
By the end of the 2nd century a large Christian community had formed in Cappadocia. It is known that there were two bishoprics at that time; one in Kayseri, which, for a long time, continued to be a Christian center in the regon and the other in Malatya.
In the 3rd century, priests with good character changed theregion into a lively centre of Christian activity. In the 4th century Cappadocia became known as the land of the three saints; The Great St.Basil, Bishop of Kayseri; his brother St.Gregory of Nyssa, and St. George of Nazianus. These three men created a new unity in Christian thought, and many of St.Basil’s thoughts and actions are still important dotay. An example of his doctrine is the advice to Christian with one piece of bread in a famine. He said that the Christians should give half of the bread to a fellow believer and trust in God to take care of him. St.Basil founded small, secluded settlements far away from villages and towns. Daily worship was carried out under the supervision of a preacher. These groups were not, however, priveleged gropus seperated from the community like similar communities in Egypt and Syria. St .Basil is important in that he introdued worship within the community in the churches of Cappadocia.
Greme open Air Museum is the place where this kind of religious education was started. The same model was then introduced in Soğanlı, Ihlara and Açıksaray.
Durmus Kadir Church
This basilica style church differs from the others in that it has a pulpit in the centre, its columns are thick and rectangular in shape, it has a baptistery and graves hollowed out of the walls in the first esction. The church dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries, displays some of the most beautiful examples of carved decoratinos.
Yusuf Koc Church
As with the Durmuş Kadir Church, this church has been named after the owner of the vineyard on which it stands.It is cruciform in design, with two apses and originally boasted four columns although these have now crumbled. This church dates back to the 11th century.
El Nazar Church
This church is situated in the El Nazar valley, about 800m to te right from the road to the Göreme Open air museum. This church was carved from one piece of rock in a “T” shape. It is cruciform with three apses, the main apse opening up in the center where the barrel vaulted arms of the crucigorm meet. The floor has been completely destroed, as has part of the apse. The frescoes show scenes which follow each other in chronological order. This church can be dated to the end of the 10th century.
Scenes: Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Flight into Egypt, Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Pursuit of Elizabeth, Baptism, Raising of Lazarus, Transfiguration, Entry into Jerusalem, Crucifixion, Anastasis, Ascension, and portraits of the saints.
Sakli (Hidden) Church
As this churc remained undiscovered until 1957 it was given the name of Saklı, which means hidden. It is situated near the El Nazar Chruch. It is based on a broad rectangular plan, the main section being divided into two bytwo columns and three arches. It has three apses. The flat ceiling is decorated with crosses and geometrical patterns. The frescoes in this church are painted directly onto the rock, and not onto plaster. Pieces of painted cloth found around the church have been analysed and found to be cloth which was used instead of brushes to paint the church. The architecture of the church resembles the style found in Mesopotamia. This church dates from the second half of the 11th century.
Scenes : Deesis, Annunciatino, Nativity, Presentatino of Jesus in the Temple, Calling of John, Baptism, Transfiguration, Crucufixion, Koimesis (Falling Asleep of St Mary the Virgin) and portraits of the saints.
Kiliclar Kusluk Church (Of Mother Mary)
This church lies on a steep slope to the south of the Kılıçlar Church, and behind the Tokalı (Buckle) church, about 250m from the Open Air Museum. The rectangular nave is covered by two barrel vaults of different widths and heights. The church houses portraits of the saints, and four bible scenes.
Scnes : Deesis, Journey of Bethiehem, Nativity, Crucifixion, Koimesis (Falling Asleep of St Mary the Virgin) and the portraits of the saints.
This church is sutiated 600 m NW of the Göreme Open Air Museum in the Kılıçlar valley. It has a cruciform plan with four columns and a central dome. The arms of the cross are barrel vaulted. The ceilings in the West corners are flat, whereas those in the East corners are domed. There are three apses. The walls are richly decorated with frescoes illustrating a long narration from the Bible. The church dates back to the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th centuries.
Scenes : Prophetic Vision, Annunciation, Visitation, Proof of the Virgin, Reproaches of Joseph, Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Joseph’s Dream, Flight into Egypt, Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Calling of St.John the Babptis, John meeting Christ, Baptism, Jesus and Zacchaeus, Healing of the Blind Man, Raising of Lazarus, Entry into Jerusalem, Last Supper, Washing of the Disciples’ Feet, Communion of the Apostles, Betrayal, Jesus before Annas and Caiaphas, Jesus before Pilate, Denial by Peter, Way of the Cross, Crucifixion, Descent from the Cross, Entombment, Anastasis, Women at the Tomb, Blessing and Mission of the Apostles, Ascension, Pentecost, Koimesis (Falling Asleep of St Mary the Virgin) and portraits of the saints
Church Architecture In Goreme
The one nave barrel vaulted plan common for Göreme’s churches was the most convenient architectural style for the religious communities and those liveng in seclusion in the area. These buildings were also seen as suitale areas for graves. The transversal rectangular plan originated in Mesopotamia, and it is likely that these buildings were consturcted for groups of foreigners settling in the area.
In Göreme, the only church built with two naves is the church of St.Eustathios, however, the churches in Soğanlı and Ihlara quite often feature two naves. Building according to the basilica plan with three naves is also rare in Göreme, this being a preferred technique for the Bishopric churches such as Durmuş Kadir. These churches were big and the architecture was very ornate, and for this reason this style was not popular in rocky areas.
Two different techniques have been used with the wall paintings in the churches:
1. The direct application of red ochre paint onto the bare rock. Examples of this technique can be seen in the churches of St.Basil, Elmali and the Chapel of St.Barbara.
2. The application of a type of plaster made from gypsum, sand and straw as a preparatory surface, the fresco technique was applied on.
3. The subjects of the drawings are taken from the Bible and the life of Jesus.
Tokali (Buckle) Church
This is the oldest known rock-cut church in the region, and cmoprises of four sections: The Old Church with one nave; the New Church; the Lower Church under the Old Church; and the Parecclesion to the north of the New Church.
The single-naved, barrel-vaulted Old Church, built in the 10th century, today acts as the entrance to the New Church. Its apse collapsed when the New Church was added to the east wing. Frescoes are to be found on the vault and at the top of the walls. The life o Jesus is told on separate panels on the vault, running from left to right.
Scenes : Portraits of the saints are in the center of the vault. On the top panel of the right wing are Annunciation, Visitation, Prof of the Virgni, Journey to Bethlehem, and Nativity. On the top panel of the left wing are, Adoration of the Magi, Massacre of the Innocents, Flight into Egypt, Presentation of of Jesus in the Temple and Killing of Zacharias. On the middle panel of the right wing are, Pursuit of Elizabeth, Calling of St.John the Babtist, Preaching of John, John meeting Jesus, Baptism and Marriage at Cana. On the middle panel of the left wing are, Miracle of the Wine, Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, Calling of the Apostles, Healing of the Blind Man and Raising of Lazarus. On the lower panel of the right wing are Entry into Jerusalem, Last supper, Betrayal and Jesus before Pilate. On the left lower panel of the left wing are Way of the Cross, Crucifixion, Descent from the Cross, Entombment, Women at the Tomb, Anastasis and Ascension. Beneath this panel are portraits of the saints, and Transfiguration is painted over the entrance.
The New Church is transversally rectangular with a simple barrel voult. On the east wall there are four columns joined by arches, behind which there is a raised corridor in front of the main apse and two side apses. On this barrel vaulted nave is the story of Jesus in chronological order in mainly bright red and blue colours. The dark bule colour serves to distinguish the Tokalı Church from the other churches.
On the transversal nave are scenes from the life of St.Basil, portraits of some saints and pictures of the Miracles of Jesus. The Church is dated back to last decade of the 10th century and the first decade of the 11th century.
Scenes: On the north wing of the vault are Annunciation, Visitation, Proof of the Virgin, Nativity and Adoration of the Magi. on the north wall of the vault are Joseph’s Dream and Joruney to Bethlehem and below these in the niches are portraits of 8 saints. Ar the very bottom are Calling of St.John the Baptist, John meeting Jesus, Baptism, Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Calling of Matthew, Calling of the Apostles and Marriage at Cana; on the west wing Flight into Egypt, Temptation of Christ and Christ in the Temple when Twelve Years Old, on the south wing of the vault are the First Diacons, Pentecost and Blessing and Mission of the Apostles; on the south wall of the vault are some unidentified angels, bleow are Healing of the Nobleman’s Son, Raising the Daughter of Jairus, Healing the Paralytic, Raising of Lazarus, Entry into Jerusalem and Last Supper.On the west wing is Washing of the Disciples ‘Fet, onthe main apse conch are Crucifixion, Descent from the Cross, Women at the Tomb, Anastasis, on the front wall of the apse are the First Diacons and Jesus and the Samaritan Woman; inside the niche is Mother Mary and baby Jesus; and on the apses to the north is Prophetic Vision and angels.
Nunnery And Monastery
The 6-7 storey rock mass to the left of the museum entrance is known as the “Nunnery”. The dining hall, kitchen and some rooms on the first floor, together with the ruined chapel on the second level, can still be visited. The church on the third storey, which can be reached through a tunnel, has a cruciform plan, a dome with four columns and three apses. The templon on the main apse is rarely found in Göreme’s churches. Besides the fresco of Jesus, painted directly onto the rock, designs pained in red can alse be seen. The different levels of the monastery are connected by tunnels, and “millstone doors”, such as those found in the underground cities, were used to close off these tunnels in times of danger.
The tunnels connecting the levels of the Manostery, to the right, hava eroded making it possible to only visit some of the ground floor rooms.
Chapel Of St.Basil
This church is situated at the entrance to the Göreme Open Air Museum. Graves are to be found in the columned narthex area. The nave is transversally rectangular and barrel vaulted, and has three apses situated on the left, long side of the rectangular nave. The church dates back to the 11th century.
Scenes: On the main apse is a portrait of Jesus, and next to this is a portrait of Mary and baby Jesus. On the nroth wall is picture of St.Theodore, while St.George and the dragon are featured on the south wall. The paintings of St.Demetrius and two famale saints cna also be seen.
Elmali (Apple) Church
This church featuring four columns, nine domes and three apses is of the closed cruciform type. Access to the church is through a tunnel on the north side. The original entrance was on the south side.
The original decorations in this church consist of geometrical designs and crosses painted in red ochre directly onto the rock. Thes technique is also fonud in the chapels of St.Barbara and St.Basil. The church has been dated back to the mid 11th century and the beginning of the 12 th century.
Scenes : Deesis, Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Baptism, Raising of Lazarus, Transfiguration, Entry into Jerusalem, Last Supper, Betrayal of Judas, Way of the Cross, Crucifixion, Entombment, Anastasis, Women at the Tomb, Ascension and portraits of the saints. There are also scenes from the Old Testament (Pentateuch) such as the Hospitality of Abraham and Three Young Men in the Fiery Fumace.
Chapel Of St.Barbara
This church is situated behind the rock housing Elmali (Apple) Church. It has a cruciform plan, with two columns. The north, south and west arms of the cruciform are barrel vaulted, and the centre the east arm, and the east corners are domed. There are a main, central apse and two side apses.
Motifs were painted in red direcetly onto the rock. The walls and the dome are decorated in a variety of motifs including geometrical patterns, mythological animals and military symbols. The walls also have motifs resembling stonework. Thes church dates back to the second half of the 11th century.
Scenes: On the main apse is Christ Pantocrator, on the north arm are St.George and the Dragon and St Theodore, and on the west arm is St.Barbara.
Yilanli (Snake) Church (Of St.Onuphrius)
The main section is transversally rectangular and barrel vaulted, whereas the extended space to the south, which houses the graves, has a flat ceiling. The apse was hollowed out of the long wall on the left and the church was left uncompleted. The entrance to the church is from the north. Portraits of the respected saints of Cappadocia are on either side of the vault. The church dates back to the 11th century.
Scenes : Opposite the entrance is a portrait of Jesus holding the Bible in his left hand. The donor of the church is pictured beside Jesus. On the east side of the vault are St.Onesimus, St. George and the Dragon, St. Theodore, and Helena holding the True Cross with her son Constantine the Great. On the west of the vault is the long haired, naked St.Onuphoius behind a palm tree, with St.Thomas in a sanctitying position beside him, and St.Basil holding a book.
In the first century AD people calling themselves “Hermits” lived in seclusion in the Egyptian deserts. Theydedicated themselves to religion. In the 4th century. St.Paphnutius travelled to Egypt to learn about the hermits way of life, and there he met St.Onuphrius, whom the church was named after. St.Paphnutius helped St.Onuphrius while he was dying, as he was the best example of moral values and self control. St.Onuphrius is depicted as naked, long haired and broad chested, and a palm tree is in front of him.
These three areas lie side by side and are connected by passageways. The first section was used as a larder, with recesses hollowed from the rock being used as storage spaces. In the kitchen there is a “tandir”, a type of oven still found in local village houses. The final section was the refectory. A long table carved from the rock extends from the left of the entrance. This would have seated 40-5/0 people. To the right of the table is a winery hollowed in the floor used for squashing grapes.
Karanlik (Dark) Church
To the north, a winding stairway leads into the rectangular, barrel vaulted narthex of the Dark Church. This church has a cruciform plan, the arms of which are cross vaulted. There is a center dome, with four columns and three apses. This church gets its name from the tiny window in the narthex which only allows a small amount of light in. Due to the absence of light the colours of the frescoes are still vivid.
The church and the narthex are richly decorated in scenes from teh Bible and the story of Jesus. As in Elmalı (Apple) and Çarıklı churches there are also scenes from the old Testament. The church dates back to the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries.
Scenes : Deesis, Annunciation, Journey to Bethlehem, Tativity, Adoration of the Magi, Baptism, Raising of Lazarus, Transfiguration, Entry into Jerusalem, Last Supper, betrayal of Judas, Crucifixion, Anastasis, Women at the Tomb, Blessing and Mission of the Apostles, Ascension, Hospitality of Prophet abraham, Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace and protraits of the saints.
Chapel Of St Catherine
Situated between the Karanlık (Dark) church and the Çarıklı Church, the Chapel of St.Catherine has a free-cross nave and narthex. The central bay is covered by a dome and the cross arkms are barrel-vaulted. Its apse is closed by a templon. Tne narthex has nine floor graves and two arcosolia (burial niches).
Only in the nave of the chapel are some decorations with figures. The pendentives are decorated with carvings. The Chapel of St.Catherine, built by a donor named Anna, dates back to the 11th century.
Scenes : Deesis in the apse with the templon, below are Doctors of the Church (Gregory, Basil the Great and John Chrysostom), on the south wall of the northem arm is St.George, opposite St.Theodore, St.Catherine and other panels of saints.
Carikli (Sandals) Church
This two columned church (two other columns being in the form of pillars), is cross vaulted, and has three apses and four domes. The well preserved frescoes show the life of Jesus, Hospitality of abraham, and images of the saints and the donors of the church. Although it resembles The Karanlık (Dark) and Elmalı (Apple) Churches, the scenes of Way of the Cross and Descent from the Cross make this church different from the others. The figures are generally large.
The footprints under the Ascension scene give the church its name, which means “with sandal”. The church dates back to the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th centuries.
The center dome houses a picture of Jesus the Pantocrator with the busts of angels in the insets. On the central apse is Deesis, on the north apse Mary and the Baby Jesus and on the south apse, a picture of St Michael.
Scenes: Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, Baptism, Raising of Lazarus, Transgiguration, Entry into Jerusalem, Betrayal, Women at the Tomb, Anastasis, Ascension and portraits of the saints.