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Goreme

 

Karanlik Church, Goreme

The Goreme Open-Air Museum, a monastic complex of rock churches and chapels covered with frescoes, is one of the best-known sites in central Turkey. Most of the chapels date from the 10th to the 13th centuries; the Byzantine and Seljuk periods and many of them are built on an inscribed cross-plan with a central cupola supported by four columns. In the north annexes of several churches are rock-cut tombs. Among the most famous of the Goreme churches are the Elmali Church, the smallest and most recent of the group; the Yilanli Church with fascinating frescoes of the damned in serpent coils; the Barbara Church,the Karanlik Church; and the Carikli Church. A short way from the main group, the Tokali Kilise, or Buckle Church, has beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from the New Testament.

The town of Goreme is set right in the middle of a valley of cones and fairy chimneys. Some of the cafes, restaurants and guest-houses are carved into the rock. For shoppers, rugs and kilims are plentiful.

Continuing on the road out of Goreme, you enter one of the most beautiful valleys in the area. Rock formations seemingly out of a fantasy rise up before you at every turn and entice you to look longer and wonder at their creation. For those who climb the steps to the top of the Uchisar Fortress the whole region unfolds below. Rugs, kilims, and popular souvenirs can easily be purchased from the shops which line Uchisar's narrow streets.

 

At Cavusin, on the road leading north out of Goreme, you will find a triple apse church and the monastery of St. John the Baptist. In the town are chapels and churches, and some of the rock houses are still inhabited. From Cavusin to Zelve, fairy chimneys line the road. Unfortunately, it is dangerous to visit the churches in the Zelve valley because erosion has undermined solid footing.

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