Göreme National Park

Located in the heart of Turkey's Cappadocia, the Göreme Valley covers more than 9.5 hectares. It has been classified as a national park since 1986. Thanks to its incredible panoramic views, the Göreme Valley is one of the most visited places in Cappadocia, and indeed in Turkey. It includes the Valley of Love, with its unmissable fairy chimneys, as well as other marvellous and unusual places, including numerous cave dwellings. In the heart of the national park, the Göreme open-air museum is an absolute must for any stay in Cappadocia.

The Göreme valley is also the region's largest religious centre. Of the 380 churches in Cappadocia, the town of Göreme and the surrounding area are home to eleven rock-hewn churches. Inside, murals depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments, some more well preserved than others.

Göreme National Park, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © Travel Faery / Shutterstock

The churches of the Göreme valley

The Göreme valley alone boasts eleven churches with unique architecture and wall decorations. Carved out of tufa, the region's typical volcanic rock, these religious buildings have much in common with the troglodyte dwellings of Göreme. The interior spaces vary in size, but most of the churches are narrow.

Entrance to the Loop Church in Göreme; a religious edifice carved out of volcanic rock

- © Narongsak Nagadhana / Shutterstock

Of all the churches in the city of Göreme, theChurch of the Loop –also known as Tokali Kilise– is the largest and undoubtedly the most visited. Built in the tenth century, it consists of three distinct parts. Its walls are covered with scenes illustrating the life of Christ, and the wall decorations are extremely well preserved.

Interior of the Church of the Loop, or Tokali Kilise, in the city of Göreme

- © Mitzo / Shutterstock

A little further south of Göreme, in the municipality of Nevşehir, theDark Church of Cappadocia is the only church in the region still intact. Dating back more than 5,000 years, this building was once a monastery before being rehabilitated as a residential area, with several chapels and churches. It is located within the grounds of the Göreme Open-Air Museum, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the paintings are fragile and can be affected by breathing, visits to the dark church are limited to a maximum of 3 minutes, in groups of 15 people.

Frescoes in the Sombre church in Cappadocia, in the Nevşehir-Göreme region

- © Kaliam / Shutterstock

The Göreme open-air museum

Located less than 2 kilometres from Göreme town centre (about a 20-minute walk), the Göreme Open Air Museum is one of the most important tourist facilities in Cappadocia. Also a UNESCO World Heritage site, this open-air museum contains the region's most beautiful rock art sites.

Rock formations in Cappadocia, at the Göreme open-air museum

- © Kevser Gurbuz / Shutterstock

For just 100 TL per person (just over €5), you can visit the many buildings - mainly religious - carved out between the fairy chimneys. Allow at least 2 to 3 hours to visit the site in its entirety. Don't miss the Convent of the Nuns and theChurch of Saint Barbara, as well as theDark Church mentioned earlier in this article (entrance fee extra).

Church of the Göreme caves, in the open-air museum of the same name in Cappadocia

- © Karel Stipek / Shutterstock

Please note that in order to preserve the paintings, photography is prohibited in several of the museum's buildings. Please pay particular attention to the signs.

👉 Practical information

Tip¨NBSP;

If you plan to visit several museums during your stay in Cappadocia, we recommend buying a Museum Pass. For 400 TL (around €20), this ticket is valid for 3 days in several museums in the region, including those in Göreme and Zelve.

🍴 Where to eat in Göreme?

The city of Göreme is packed with restaurants and is very popular with tourists. Although the setting and views are generally splendid (especially from the rooftop terraces), the quality of the food is often not as good as in the country's other cities. There are a few pleasant establishments, however, such as Buyuk Adana Kebap and Omurca Art Cafe, where many cats roam freely. It's also worth noting that vegetarian options are rare, apart from a few mezzés (hummus, gozleme with cheese, etc.).

Tourists dining in a café overlooking the town of Göreme in Cappadocia, Turkey.

- © Katya Warped / Shutterstock

⭐ Where to stay in the Göreme valley?

For those wishing to stop off for a few days to take in the sights of the Göreme valley, there are both guesthouses and hotels to welcome tourists. Most of these accommodations are dug into the rock, just like the troglodyte villages of yesteryear.

The town of Göreme at sunset, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © givaga / Shutterstock

In the city of Göreme, you'll have no trouble finding accommodation to suit your budget and/or your needs. For those on a budget, the guesthouse Kose Pension offers dormitory beds and private rooms from 220 TL per night (just over €10), with breakfast included. If you prefer to experience life underground, the Melek Cave Hotel and the Anatolian Houses Caves Hotel & Spa offer guests comfortable troglodyte rooms and suites overlooking the Love Valley.

Anatolian Houses Cave Hotel & SPA Cappadocia
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Anatolian Houses Cave Hotel & SPA

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by Editorial Team
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