Located in Central Anatolia, Goreme is a small town in the heart of the historic region of Cappadocia. First inhabited by the Romans, Goreme was the setting of a Christian monastic complex in Middle Ages.
Today tourists flock the area to admire the scenic unusual landscape and take an up-close look at the unique rock formations, which surround the town, or visit the Byzantine churches and monasteries which are cut into the rocks.
Women travellers are suggested to dress modestly, since revealing clothes will attract unwanted attention all over Cappadocia.
You can easily explore the town of Goreme on foot, since distances are very short. For exploring the surrounding area you will need to hire a car or scooter. If you feel fit enough, bike rentals are a popular choice as well. Goreme is connected with nearby towns by “dolmus” services (local shared taxis with pre-set routes).
Things to see and do in Goreme
Included in Unesco’s World Heritage Site List, Goreme’s Open Air Museum is one of Cappadocia’s most popular attractions. Extremely easy to reach, it is a less than 15 minutes on foot from the town’s centre. The visitor will follow paths that lead to ancient monasteries cut into rocks. Each monastery houses its own church, most of which are decorated with fascinating vivid frescos. If visiting during summer time, avoid the midday hours when the temperature reaches uncomfortably high levels.
Once entering the museum, you will come across The Nunnery. Featuring no less than 7 floors, the monastery is open to visitors, who will change floors by entering rock cut tunnels. One of the museum’s most popular churches, Apple Church took its name from an apple tree that once grew next to it. Dating back to 12th century, it presents well-preserved frescos depicting scenes from the Bible.
Featuring an extra entrance fee, Dark Church offers the most vibrant and well-preserved frescos of all of the museum’s churches. Its name derives from the lack of sunlight due to the very few windows, which is actually the fact that contributed the most to keeping the frescos intact. Except the fascinating frescos, the visitors will also see three ancient graves near the church’s narthex.
The ticket of the Open Air Museum also covers the entrance to nearby Buckle Church. Goreme’s largest church, Buckle Church features four main chambers: Old Church, New Church, Lower Church and Paracclesion. The New Church was curved at the eastern side of Old Church about a century after the original construction, while both sections feature interesting frescos from different periods. The Lower Church houses a burial crypt.
Rock-churches around Goreme spread beyond the grounds of the Open Air Museum. Hike the trails of nearby Gulludere (Rose) Valley, to explore more churches and enjoy some fascinating views of the impressive chimney-like rock formations. A cave-café is also available within Gulludere’s grounds. Neighbouring similar valleys include Pigeon and Love Valley.
Five kilometres away from Goreme, stands Uchisar Castle. Located on Cappadocia’s highest spot, the castle also features dozens of rock-cut chambers, some of which had been used as churches in Byzantine times and some of which are still being used from local farmers as dove cots. Many of the chimney-rocks surrounding the castle had been hollowed and used as graves in by the Romans.
While in Goreme, find some time to treat yourself at the town’s Turkish Baths, or window shop at the local craft stores. The area is known for its traditional textiles and carpets, as well as its ceramics. Bargaining is part of the game here, so don’t forget to negotiate the price before purchasing.