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The Incomparable Goreme Valley

Thanks to its unique geological circumstances, the Göreme Valley of Cappadocia is a perfect location for seclusion. Located 17 kilometers from Nevşehir and six kilometers from Ürgüp, its elevation is 1,100 meters above sea level. Although the meaning of the name ’Göreme’ is obscure, it is thought that it may originate as a corruption of the name Korama, given by the early Christians who fled from the Arabs and found shelter there. Göreme was the birthplace of the martyred Saint hieron.

The earliest examples of Byzantine churches can be seen in this valley, which would be used as a location fort he education of missionaries. Some researchers propound that Armenians were among the first architects as well. According to these researchers, the tambour and dome at the Halacdere Monastery in Avcılar, at Mavrucan/Güzelöz, is an outstanding example of the domed churches that display the work of Armenian architects. ( The tambour is the cylindrical or faceted wall with Windows that supports the dome.)

cappadocia goreme

Goreme Churches

You can visit numerous churches, many of which contain peerless frescoes, in the present-day Göreme Valley, part of which has been designated an open-air museum. It is believed that there are as many as 200 churches here, including those that are not a part of the museum.The increase in the number of churches occurred when Saint Paul (10-67) decided to make use of this area fort he education of missionaries. Some sources maintain that a different church was provided for every day of the year. Unfortunately, a significant number of them were unable to resist the ravages of time and rugged conditions.

In some churches in the region, primarily those in the Ihlara Valleys, there are inscriptions that display the date of construction. However, the inscriptions in those of the Göreme have not survived, and it is only possible to date them according to their architectural characteristics or iconography. We can separate the churches that can be visited into two categories: those within the open-air museum area and those outside it. The churches that are outside te museum limits are the Saklı Kılıse[Church], Meryem Ana [the Mother Mary] church and the kılıçlar and El Nazar churches.