The Göreme Open Air Museum is only a fifteen minute walk outside of the heart of Göreme, where we were staying. Göreme, is a small town in an area of Turkey known as Cappadocia. Göreme is located among the “fairy chimneys” as well as the Open Air Museum. Göreme Valley was designated as the center of tourism in Cappadocia and while the town doesn’t necessarily reflect that (in my opinion) the vast quantities of tour buses driving through do. The town continued to be on the sleepy side the entire three days we were there, but then as soon as we got to the Open Air Museum, we were faced with a parking lot full of tour buses and large groups lining up to see the ancient rock churches and houses.
“So… what was this place?” I quizzed Andrew as we walked past several formations before we even set foot in the Open Air Museum. He shrugged, and we hoped there would be more information within the museum walls. Somehow. Even though it was ‘open air.’ Before we reached the designated museum, we noticed a line outside of one of the formations. The line was for the Buckle (also known as the Tokali) Church. There was a lot of information about what was painted where within the church, but not a lot of information on who worshipped there. Christians, obviously, but that was pretty much all of the information that was shared on the plaques outside of the entrance. Also, photos were prohibited. I’m not entirely sure why, but because I’m rebellious, I snapped a few anyway. (I didn’t use my flash, which is what I think they were really trying to prohibit) The frescoes were simply too beautiful not to share.
Here’s what I know: Göreme was settled when Christianity was the religion of choice in the region. These churches were cut out of the rock formations sometime between the 10th and 12th centuries. Most of them feature some frescoes ranging from crude cave-like painting to elaborate multi-colored depictions of biblical stories. Again, not a lot of photography was allowed within the churches.
Because not a lot of photography was allowed inside the churches, I tried to make up for it outside. I made Andrew participate:
“Ok… now act like it’s caving in on you!”
“Ok, now, there’s a DRAGON behind you! What are you going to do?!”
“I’m done.” Andrew declared, walking out of my frame. He grabbed my camera (his has become a bit of a waste of space with a broken battery charger) and we traded it back and forth for the rest of the afternoon.
After the Open Air Museum, and instead of walking along the road back to Göreme, we decided to go exploring. There were a few paths, so we thought we’d see where they led.
This part was actually a little scary. The path kind stopped right at this rock ridge. It was a fairly narrow ridge as well, with steep slopes, one side falling off down into a canyon with more formations on the other side. Fortunately, it wasn’t terribly long and then we could slide down on all fours to a wider berth to walk back down to the road. Before we made our way back down though, I set my camera in a nook and hit the timer. We weren’t even sure if I was in the shot, let alone in focus, but they turned out well!
Our view back down to the road was pretty spectacular, and we were all alone. I liked walking around outside of the Open Air Museum more than inside with all of the tour groups traipsing around. It was quiet and amusing that we were the only ones exploring on the other side of the road as we could see the many, many tour buses driving past. Sometimes I wish we were in a group, for the simplicity of it all. This was not one of those times.
This amulet that is so popular in Turkey thought to protect you from the evil eye is called a “nazar.” You know, for your next trivia night, I got you covered.