Goreme Things to Do Tips by Paul2001 Top 5 Page for this destination
Goreme Things to Do: 252 reviews and 629 photos
The Zelve Open-Air Museum
The Zelve Open-Air Museum is the location of a monanstic retreat where Christian lived from the 9th to 13th centuries. Although not as impressive as the Goreme Open-Air Museum, if you have the time as I did, I would recommend a visit especially if you are touring the nearby Fairy Chimneys. It has a large amount of rockcut churches and living quarters however they are not in a great state of preservation. Still I found them quite interesting. Another big difference when comparing Zelve to Goreme, is that the path are much more rugged. Not everyone will be able to get around. The Zelve Open-Air Museum is also much less crowded.
Nearby there are great hiking opportunities. In fact I walked all the way here from Goreme which is about 8km away, through some stunning valleys.
The museum is open daily from 8am to 5:30pm. A visit costs about $7.00US.
Directions: On the road west from Avanos, just 1km from the Fairy Chimneys
The Fairy Chimneys
Whether by car or by foot (like me) on your way to the Zelve Open Air Museum you are going to pass the Devrent Valley. This valley sometimes known at the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys. Clusters of the these bizarre conical shaped rock formations are scattered all over Cappadocia but it is here at Devrent that you will find the most interesting formations. The formations were formed by the erosion of the soft rock beneath the harder surface rock on top. Apparently this process is known as differential erosion.
Over the years, in the 10th and 11th century in particular, the locals carved into homes and churches into to lower base of the cones. These churches can be explored today free of charge. However the one problems with this part of Cappadocia is that it is saturated with souvenior stands and touts. Therefore though it is amongst the most interesting sites in the region, it is also the most annoying.
The first day tour I took while in Goreme finished off at Ortahisar Castle. This is a volcanic rock outcrop that towers over the small town of Uchisar and the surrounding valleys. The castle is saturated with tunnels and caverns. Apparently these where used by the Byzantines as a means of defense many centuries ago. The views from the summit are quite stunning and I recommend that you make the effort to climb up. It is not an easy climb however and I would suggest that you not bother if you do not like heights.
If you do not visit the site on a tour as I did, then I will advise you that it cost $2.00 to enter the castle and that it is open from 8am to sunset daily.
Directions: Ortahisar is 3km southwest of Goreme
The Ihlara Valley
The Ihlara Valley is one of the most pleasant excursions from Cappadocia. The valley is actually a canyon about 5km long near the town of Ihlara. It was inhabited by Byzantine monks who about a thousand years ago, carved a series of churches into the walls of the canyon. These in themselves are quite interesting to visit are quite interesting to visit. However even if you do not visit the churches, the valley is worth exploring for the splendid scenery. As compared to the rest of the region in Central Turkey, the valley is very verdant. It takes about 2.5 hours to walk the length of the valley. Bring good walking shoes as some of the paths are rather rugged.
I took a tour to the valley as it is rather difficult to reach from Goreme by public transport. The one problem with this was that the tour rushed through the valley a little too quickly for my liking. I would have like to explore a couple of more churches.
The canyon can only be entered through for entrances along the canyon walls. To enter you must pay $2.00US. The valley is open for exploration from 8am to 7pm.
Directions: The Ihlara Valley is located 45km from Aksaray, the largest city in the region.
Stairway into the depths of Kaymakli
Kaymakli is one of the two great underground cities in the Cappadocia. There are actually many more underground cities but as Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are the two largest and largely excavated, they receive the most visitors. Of the two Kaymakli is the most popular as it is closer to the hotels in Goreme.
It is a labyrinth of tunnels dug 20m into the earth and consists of four levels. Many more levels have yet to excavated. The Hittites built these tunnels as a defensive system against other warring peoples. Supposedly the cave systems could accommodate up to 30,000 people. Although the Kaymakli was initially built by the Hittites, it was enlarged by early Christians who had hoped to hide from raiding Arabs during the Dark Ages. Hence there are some surprisingly large churches in the catacombs along with storerooms, kitchens, dining halls and stables for livestock.
I found that Kaymakli is much more confining that Derinkuyu in that the passages seemed smaller. This might freak some people out as some of the passage ways are also quite dark. This is why it is best to go with a guide into the tunnels. The possibility of getting lost is quite strong.
Kaymakli from 8am to 6pm and till 5pm in the off season. It cost $7.00US to enter.
Directions: Kaymakli is located 19km south of Nevshir, one of the main tourists centres in Cappadocia.
The Tokali Kilise outside of Goreme
The Tokali Kilise is just a fify metre walk from the entrance into the Goreme Open Air Museum. A visit to this ancient church is usually included amongst tours of the museum. This is probably the finest church that I visited in Cappadocia.
The Tokali Kilise was built in the 10th century and consists of two large and two smaller chambers, one of which is underneath the two larger chambers. The highlight of a visit to the church are the brilliant frescos that chronicle the life of Jesus Christ. They are as good an example of Byzantine art as you are going to see anywhere.
The church is open from 8am to 5pm and it is about $2.50 to go in.
Directions: Along the road to the Goreme Open Air Museum
Rolling doorway stone, Derinkuyu
The underground cities that are scattered throughout Cappadocia are amongst the most interesting attractions in all of Turkey. I visited two by way of bus tour (which I highly recommend). On my third day while based in Goreme, I visited Derinkuyu on such a tour. This is probably the most explored and largest of all the underground cities in the region. Like the others, Derinkuyu dates from Hittite times which means that it is at least 3,000 years old. Throughout the centuries underground like this were used by the locals to hide themselves and their livestock from raiders such as the Arabs.
As I said, a tour is recommended. This because a guide will be able to explain what each room and passage was being used for. Also it will prevent you from getting lost or even injured as could happen if you travel through the underground city on your own. Also bring a sweater as it gets cool down there. Finally it is not recommended that you go if you are claustrophobic.
If you insist on going on your own, then I will advise you that it is $7.00 for adults to enter. My passage was paid for with the cost of the tour. It is open from 8am to 6pm during the peak tourists months.
The cut stone that you see in this picture is actually a doorway that was used to prevent access by invaders. Once the round stone was closed, raiders were not suppose to be able to role back the door from outside.
Directions: About 38km south of Goreme.
The Goreme Open Air Museum
The Goreme Open Air Museum is probably first on must peoples list as attractions to visit while in Cappadocia. The museum is a collection of ten churches and monastic residences that were carved out of the rocks here between the 10th and 13th centuries. These churches have been very well restored over the past three decades and are full of fascinating frescos from medieval times. The most interesting churches are the Church of St. Basil and the Dark Church. Unfortunately the custodians of the museum charge an extra price of admission in order to visit these churches. An afternoon at the museum can be quite expensive if you see all the churches that do charge extra admission prices. It is $10.00 just to enter the grounds themselves and each significant church charges another $7.00 for admission. Hence a visit to the whole place can be pricy and perhaps in some eyes, a rip off.
The museum is extremely popular all the same. It is best to go first thing in morning to avoid the crowds as some of the churches are so small that it is at times very difficult to enter them. Also it might be a good idea to wear proper walking shoes as there is alot of climbing over rock to be done during your tour.
Directions: The musuem is two kilometers southwest of Goreme itself. If found the walk to be very pleasant.
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