Central Anatolia Sights

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Zelve Açık Hava Müzesi (Zelve Open-Air Museum)

Zelve Açık Hava Müzesi (Zelve Open-Air Museum) Review

Although the prizes at Göreme are the fresco-decorated churches, the outdoor museum at Zelve provides a fascinating look at how people lived in fairy-chimney communities. Zelve was a center of Christian monastic life from the 9th through 13th centuries, and the town was inhabited until the early 1950s, when erosion and cracking caused slabs of rock to fall, forcing villagers to move out. The site is only about 2,145 feet long, but there's plenty to explore. The valley is made up of several uneven, naturally carved rows of fairy chimneys. These—and just about every spare rockface—shelter hundreds of dwellings that vary in size. Some are just simple cavelike openings and others are multistory houses with rooms on several floors linked by stairs carved deep inside the rocks. There's also a rock-cut mosque and several small churches. Certain structures have collapsed, leaving giant pieces of carved ceiling upside down on the ground. Be prepared to climb around, and definitely bring a flashlight or you won't be able to explore some of the most intriguing and extensive dwellings. You can probably see the whole place in a little over an hour but could easily linger longer.

    Contact Information

  • Address: 6 km (4 mi) northeast of Göreme Open-Air Museum, 3 km (2 mi) off road to Avanos, Göreme, 50180
  • Phone: 384/271–3535
  • Cost: 8 TL
  • Hours: Apr.–Oct., daily 8–7; Nov.–Mar., daily 8–5; last entry 45 min before closing
  • Location: Göreme
Updated: 11-21-2013

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