The Zelve open-air museum

Located around ten kilometres north-east of Göreme, the Zelve open-air museum is one of the most visited sites in Cappadocia. This museum, located in the Zelve valley, contains numerous troglodyte structures decorated with religious paintings. It is estimated that these houses, dug into the rock, were inhabited by Christian and Muslim populations until 1924.

Now uninhabited, the site is now a gigantic open-air museum, where travellers can hike and admire the treasures of Cappadocian history. The richness and uniqueness of the Zelve Museum earned it UNESCO World Heritage status in the 1960s. In high season, open-air festivals and concerts are held in the middle of the valley, with its inimitable natural acoustics.

The Zelve Valley in Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © Vasilyeva Irina / Shutterstock

Visit the Zelve open-air museum

The Zelve Open-Air Museum is located in the valley of the same name, around 10 kilometres north-east of Göreme. It lies between the Imaginary Valley and the Pink and Red Valley, two other popular tourist destinations.

From Göreme town centre, the journey to the Zelve Museum will only take around 15 minutes. If you're staying near Kayseri, the capital of Cappadocia, it's a good hour's drive to reach this point of interest.

Troglodyte houses in the Zelve valley in Cappadocia

- © Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock

Admission to the Zelve museum

Admission to the Zelve open-air museum costs 60 TL per person, or just over 3 euros. If you are planning to visit other museums in Cappadocia, we recommend you buy a Museum Pass, which costs 400 TL (around €20). This will give you access to most of the museums in the region, including the troglodyte villages of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, and the Göreme.

Tourists visiting the open-air museum at Zelve, an archaeological site in Cappadocia

- © Raffaella Galvani / Shutterstock

Testimonial

"The Zelve museum is a splendid open-air museum. There are a large number of rooms to discover, with paintings by Christian Orthodox monks in a beautiful state of conservation. The site is incredible for its beauty and diversity". -Bernard V., visitor to the Zelve open-air museum.

Zelve Museum opening times

The Zelve open-air museum is open every day from 8am to 5pm. Please note that admissions are only accepted until 4.15pm.

Tourist in the Zelve open-air museum in Cappadocia

- © Brester Irina / Shutterstock

👉 Practical information

Good to know: As in most valleys in Cappadocia, the rock can be slippery in places. For your visit, make sure you wear non-slip hiking boots. And don't forget to take a torch with you, to light up the inside of the cave dwellings.

Covid info: due to the Covid-19 epidemic, and for an indefinite period, the opening and closing times of the Zelve museum are determined by the Turkish government. The relevant information can be obtained directly from the museum staff.

Partial view of the open-air museum in the Zelve valley in Cappadocia

- © Todor Stoyanov / Shutterstock

Take home a souvenir from the Zelve museum

The Zelve open-air museum has a small shop for tourists, so that visitors can keep a souvenir of their visit. Here you'll find a number of vendors selling a variety of typical Cappadocian products, including jewellery and pottery. However, prices are a little higher than in neighbouring villages.

As a reminder, it is forbidden to take stones or objects taken directly from the valley. Possession of any item belonging to the country's heritage is punishable by imprisonment.

An unusual souvenir to buy at the Zelve museum: white limestone sculptures imitate the famous fairy chimneys of Cappadocia

- © Alejandro Alves Mendes / Shutterstock

Eating near the Zelve open-air museum

Directly at the entrance to the Zelve open-air museum, several small restaurants offer visitors drinks and traditional Turkish pancakes. The latter, called "gözleme", are usually filled with minced meat and vegetables, as well as cheese or eggs. It's the perfect way to fortify yourself on a shady terrace before exploring the valley!

On your trip to Cappadocia, don't forget to try "gözleme", the traditional Turkish pancake.

- © G Torres / Shutterstock

The neighbouring towns of Göreme, Avanos and Ürgrüp are home to a wide range of restaurants, from traditional doner restaurants to Mc Donald's fast food outlets. In Avanos, 10 minutes north of Zelve, the Bizim Ev café-restaurant has a pleasant terrace overlooking the river Kizilirmak.

After a visit to the Zelve museum, head to the town of Avanos for lunch on the banks of the Kizilirmak river.

- © muratart / Shutterstock
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