One of Cappadocia’s most famous sites is the Goreme Open-Air Museum (Göreme Açık Hava Müzesi), a ring shaped collection of churches cut into the soft volcanic cliffs.
In the 4th century the area became known as the Land of the Three Saints after the theologians St. Basil the Great, his brother St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory of Nazianzus. In the Middle Ages the importance of this area again soared and many monasteries, churches and chapels were dug out of the rock. The best of these still have vivid Byzantine frescoes of religious scenes.
Churches include Basil Kilise (St Basil’s Church), Elmali Kilise (Apple Church), and the richly decorated Tokali Kilise (Buckle Church), which is the oldest and lies just outside the gates of the museum. The best-preserved frescoes are in the Karanlık Kilise (Dark Church) which has been restored after being used as a pigeon house until the 1950s. The Göreme Open Air Museum is just a 15-minute walk (1 mile/1.5km) from Göreme or a short drive from Ürgüp.