"Goreme Open Air Museum Introduction" Top 5 Page for this destination Nevsehir Ili Things to Do Tip by nicolaitan

Nevsehir Ili Things to Do: 87 reviews and 283 photos

The most famous of Cappadocia's sites has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1984. It is a complex of medieval painted cave churches created by Orthodox monks as early as the 4th C AD set in a circular rock formation near Goreme, although most of the paintings date from the 900-1200 AD period. Mixed among them are dining areas, dwellings, and the remains of a large nunnery.
Prior to the 4th C AD, monks were generally hermit-like, living in isolated conditions of hardship as they studied and prayed. In the 4th C, three famed theologians altered the concept of monasticism allowing for communal living with individual prayer and meditation. St. Basil the Great of Caesarea, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory of Nazianzus were known as the Cappadocian Fathers and their initiatives led to the formation of these religious communities. During the iconoclastic period of 725-842 AD, earlier decorations were destroyed as realistic icons were banished by faith. During this period, most decorations were simple crosses and stick figures. The frescoes we see today date from the post-iconoclastic period of the 9-12 C when humanoid images were again allowed and are Byzantine in style.

Throughout Cappadocia we noted that many of the faces on the frescoes were gouged out, with special attention to the eyes. The explanations are numerous which means nobody really knows. Some of the stated reasons culled from the internet ------
1 - superstitious local inhabitants gouged out the eyes from fear of the Evil Eye.
2 - local children threw pebbles and rocks at the faces as a game.
3 - later century iconoclasts-at-heart took revenge on the forbidden faces.
4 - young Turkish women carved out the eyes, which were typically blue, in the belief that the
blue coloring was an aphrodisiac, a contraceptive, a love potion, whatever.

The setting of the Goreme Open Air Museum is spectacular, the churches connected by a well-cobbled pathway (typically one visits the sites in counterclockwise order). The most frequently visited churches occupy a hillside so there is a mild grade but they are surprisingly close together. Access to the interiors of some churches will be difficult for those with physical limitations - during their time of religious activity, the access needed to be hidden and obscure to keep out enemies. Several of the included images offer an idea of the spectacular surroundings of the museum.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 20, 2008
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