Göreme NP

Göreme NP
Photo by Carlo Sarion.

Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia consist of an eroded landscape dotted with cave dwellings and rock-hewn sanctuaries.

The extraordinary landscape is the combined work of lava-spitting volcanoes, wind and water. The inhabitants of the area hew rooms, chapels, and even whole villages out of the rocks. Religious Byzantine paintings can be found on the walls of churches and monasteries.

Community Perspective: This is a huge, photogenic site and one can spend easily multiple days here. Clyde has written a comprehensive review of what he managed to see over the course of 5-6 days.

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Malta - 31-Aug-21 -

Göreme NP by Clyde

I visited all 7 locations of this top WHS over a period of 5-6 days. I used this WHS as a central stepping stone twice in my figure of eight loop around Turkey during my Spring 2021 road trip, first coming from Bogazkale and later coming from Divrigi.

Not only is the main location of this WHS, Goreme National Park, a huge area to cover, but when including the remaining 6 locations, the inscribed areas are quite far from each other and quite a stretch to cover all of them by car without careful planning and a GPS. The subterranean cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are more than an hour ride away from Nevsehir. Both are quite similar, and I would suggest going for the latter if you had to choose as it not only is the biggest of the two but it has several features which make it easier to envisage it as an underground city proper, such as a bakery, storage area, sleeping areas, communal areas and passages with round movable stone slabs through which as many as 20,000 people, mostly Christians, fled and stayed together with their livestock and food stores. It is the largest excavated underground city in Cappadocia and extends to a depth of 85 metres so keep this in mind if you're claustrophobic as entrance and exit are separate areas and it will take at least 30 minutes to find your way back outside (also keep in mind that it is cool and humid down there, which was a good respite from the afternoon heat in spring).

On another day I headed south-east from Urgup and Nevsehir and not without difficulty, I managed to visit the rock sites and troglodyte villages of Karain, Karlık, Yeşilöz and Soğanlı (the first three I wouldn't have found without the GPS coordinates and are minor sites not worth going to if you're pressed for time. Soğanlı is a pleasant detour away from most tourists and is famous from the Soğanlı doll production. There are a number of vandalised rock hewn churches with paintings full of graffiti but the paintings that are higher up towards the ceiling are in good condition. In a way it is a pity that there isn't so much security as in Goreme, on the other hand you can visit and take photos at ease. Another worthwhile area (not inscribed but worth visiting if you have an extra day to spare) which is much more worth visiting than Karain, Karlik and Yesiloz IMHO are the churches, presses and dwellings in the Ihlara Valley. We visited this area as a much need stopover on our way back from Divrigi.

Last but certainly not least, Goreme National Park covers a huge area over the region between the cities of Nevşehir, Ürgüp and Avanos. This is the best place to appreciate the geological and natural aspect of this top mixed WHS. The area is bounded on the south and east by ranges of extinct volcanoes with Erciyes Dağ (3916 metres) at one end and Hasan Dağ (3253 metres) at the other. Goreme National Park is located on the central Anatolia plateau within a volcanic landscape sculpted by erosion and forms a succession of mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as “fairy chimneys” or hoodoos. The best natural places to explore on foot or for a panoramic viewpoint are Love (or Phallus) Valley, Pigeon Valley, Rainbow Valley, Rose Valley, Fairy Valley, Zelve Valley, Devrent valley (famous for its camel rock formation) and Urgup (famous for its iconic three fairy chimneys). It is still possible to reach close to most of them by car through unpaved roads so keep this in mind if you decide to venture on foot in the dark for sunrise as the roads or trails are quite narrow. The best places to visit to have a good combination of both natural and cultural aspects of this WHS are Goreme Open Air Museum and Pasabag Monks' Valley not only for the geological formations but above all for the fabulous rupestral churches.

Cappadocian monasticism was already well established in the iconoclastic period (725-842) as illustrated by the decoration of many sanctuaries which kept a strict minimum of symbols (most often sculpted or tempera painted crosses only). However, after 842 many rupestral churches were dug in Cappadocia and richly decorated with brightly coloured figurative painting. Those in the Göreme Valley include El Nazar Kilise (10th century), St. Barbara Kilise and Saklı Kilise (11th century) and Karanlık Kilise (end of the 12th – beginning of the 13th century). All can be visited and most require a separate entrance ticket. The no photography policy isn't enforced in most of these.

However, this is not the case at the Goreme Open Air Museum which was manned with a security guard at each of the main rupestral churches with the best paintings. Only chance to sneak some photos was when they went for a nature break or a cigarette break. The best wall paintings in the Goreme Open Air Museum can be found in St Basil's Chapel which also includes tombs, Elmali (Apple) Church, Yilanli (Snake) Church, Carikli (Sandal) Church and St Barbara Chapel. It was practically impossible to take photos inside the Dark Church of the Karanlik Church monastery (which requires yet another separate ticket but is one of the best preserved ones) but I only just managed to sneak some photos from the recently restored 10th century Tokalı Kilise, which is the largest church in Goreme and is just outside Goreme Open Air Museum, opposite the main entrance and also requires a separate ticket but is really a highlight not to be missed.

Other features worth viewing in Goreme National Park are the residential areas of Cavusin, Uchisar and Nevsehir which are usually used as you accomodation base and become magically enchanted every morning around sunrise with hundreds of hot air balloons with a capacity of 16, 8, 4 or 2 persons, depending on your budget, flying from one of the several valleys. Another feature worth looking out for are the many dovecotes (easily spotted at Pigeon Valley) and apiaries in the top parts of the fairy chimneys. Near most of the main components and locations of this top WHS you'll find UNESCO inscription signs. Even though it can be very touristy, especially at the sunset spots, this WHS deserves days of exploration and is one of Turkey's best WHS.

Jay T

USA - 19-Mar-17 -

Göreme NP by Jay T

Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia are a geologic wonderland, steeped in the history of the early Christian church. I visited Göreme National Park and the Derinkuyu underground city in the fall of 2007 as part of a two day tour of Cappadocia, in central Turkey. The town of Göreme, with its many cave hotels built into rock formations, is an excellent introduction to the region. All around the town are photogenic hoodoos, also called fairy chimneys. In the days of the early church, Christians found the soft rock of these wind-carved formations could be easily chipped away to create homes and churches. Today, some of their art can still be found inside the rock sanctuaries, though the faces of many of the saints have been scratched away. When the Arab-Byzantine wars began in the 8th century, the early Christian church in Cappadocia prepared to go underground, creating subterranean complexes such as the city of Derinkuyu, which was outfitted with stables, storage rooms, living spaces, and chapels. This was quite an amazing site to see. I hope that despite how long it has been since the last review, Göreme is still getting many visitors; it truly is a memorable landscape.

Logistics: Göreme and its national park may be reached by bus from most major cities in Turkey; the nearby city of Kayseri, east of Göreme, may also be reached by plane or train. Although there is much to see within walking distance of Göreme, private transportation makes it easier to access sites further outside the park.

Glenn Austerfield

USA - 26-Mar-06 -

visited in 2000 Went via bus from Egirdir.

The area is unique, with so much to see; the underground cities, the carved churches, the natural rock formations. One of the highlights of our trip to Turkey

Robert Peters

USA - 25-Feb-06 -

Cappadocia is about a five hour bus ride from the capital city of Ankara, where I currently live. Having been there a few times, I have to say that it is unique in the world, let alone in Turkey. The churches are great, but there is much more in the region than that. Underground cities, rustic village life, and a fantastic geological history make this place a must see. My personal favorite is just walking around Zelve. Enjoy!

Ben Pastore

USA - 01-May-05 -

Göreme NP by Ben Pastore

Words can't really describe this moonscape of both natural and man-made sculptures of rock. Troglodyte dwellings of generations past are fun to wander through and their architectural style can best be described as early Dr. Suess. A balloon ride, though expensive is beyond worth the price as the surreal landscape will take the breath away from even the most jaded traveler. My own recommendation is to stay in a cave hotel for a unique and fun way to spend the night.


USA - 01-May-05 -

the cave churches in Goreme are fantastic. i visited in July 04. it's not too hot in this part of Turkey in summer. the Turks are the kindest people i've met in the world and you will feel safe and welcome wherever you travel. the WHS takes about 1/2 to do justice to. try to drive there. walking from town is a trek. it only costs about $5 to see it all. while the site has sidewalks near the rock churches, you need to climb up lots of stairs and crawl into places to really see it fully. Goreme town itself is an amazing site itself. try to stay in one of the "fairy chinney" hotels in town-- like nothing else. Also, spring for a balloon ride to see the whole valley of wonders.

Site Info

Full Name
Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
Unesco ID
1 3 5 7
Archaeological site - Byzantine Natural landscape - Eroded

Site History

1985 Inscribed


The site has 7 locations

Göreme NP: Göreme National Park
Göreme NP: Karain site Turkey
Göreme NP: Karlik site Turkey
Göreme NP: Yesil
Göreme NP: Soganli site Turkey
Göreme NP: Subterranean city of Kaymakli Turkey
Göreme NP: Subterranean city of Derinkuyu Turkey


The site has

Art and Architecture
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process


Community Members have visited.

A. Mehmet Haksever AGuzzo AYB Adolfo Afshin Iranpour Alexander Barabanov Alexander Lehmann Alexandrcfif Ali Zingstra Alicemears AliciaLee711 Alikander99 Aljaz Altacyr Ammon Watkins Amohanty Ana Andrea Gormley Andrew Wembridge Angel Ying Liu Angela Vandyck Anja Anjimo Argentique Ari Kailash Artur Anuszewski Aspasia Astraftis Athena2186 Atila Ege Axel Fries BH Baiqitun Bauchat Ben Pastore Bergecn Bill Maurmann Bin Binemitz1983 Bob Parda Bob pateman Bodil Ankerly Brett Baumann Brigitte Huber Can SARICA Carlo Medina Carlo Sarion Carlos Caminando CeeMon Chalamphol Therakul ChenMing Chenboada Chenqtao Chrissiequirk272@gmail.com Christian Wagner Chunsian01 Clark Kuhling Clyde Cmk550 Coppi Corinne Vail CugelVance Cutiecuscrisori@yaho DOn Szumowski Dan Dan Pettigrew DaningMee DannyB Dat Nguyen Deborah Caster Dibro Dimitar Krastev Dkabanov Doubanjiang Drinkteatravel EDC ELVAN YURDUSEN Eanna81 Elaine McArdle Elia Vettorato Elisabeth Fransisca Situmorang Eljx1988 Els Slots Emili Xaus Eminga Erdem Engin Tavlayan Erfe91 Erik Jelinek Eternalarrival Eva Kisgyorgy FGKJR1492X FK FS Fan Yibo Federico P. Felicité Ferhatdonmez Fernweh Fmaiolo@yahoo.com Francky D'Hoop Frank Britton Frédéric M Fuaron Garrett Gcjdavid Ge zhang George Evangelou George Gdanski GerhardM Gernot Gianmarco Giannis75 Gilles Gillian Taylor Giulio25 Gonca Grimloch Hadrianus Haining Guan Hammeel Handballrama Harald T. HaraldOest Harry Mitsidis Hasco Henryjiao18 Hokee Houqian Howard Howard Brayer Howe Siang Tan Hubert Hyoga Iain Jackson Isa Kocher Ivan Rucek Izzet Ege J Mitchell JGirlJGirl Jaehyeon Jay Park Jan-Willem Janameerman Janklak Jarek Pokrzywnicki Jaroslav Klement Jason and Corrinna Javier Coro Jay T Jaynew Jennifer Prout Jessicakimmet Jezza Jiangliu bian Joachim Nölte-Baumann Jonathanfr Jonathanliao Jos Schmitz Jose Josie Borst Joyce van Soest João Aender Jsalda Jsrinivasan Judith Tanner Julianna Lees Junwang111 Juwels KB1 KarenBMoore Karl Grossner Kasienka5 Kbtwhs Kelly Henry Keqi Kevin McFarland Kevin Padley-Knight Kinstell Kjdavis Knut Krafal_74 Krijn Kwyjibo La Concy La caperucita roja Lameduck99 Lars Jensen Lauren Leslie84 Leslieisthebest Lindsay Hasluck Lisa Ross Liu tuo Loic Pedras Longdutch Lucas Del Puppo Lucia Lucio Gorla Ludvan Luis Filipe Gaspar MaYumin Mahuhe Malgorzata Kopczynska Maltishah100 Mariam Marie Morlon Martin Lind (Switzerland) Martina Rúčková Marton Kemeny Marty Mazeman Mcclaud71 Mdnichol Merveil Michael Novins Michaelsballard Michal Marciniak Mikal Ahmet Mike Mikek Mikko Miloš Tašković Miriam laschever Missy429 Mkmor9913 Monica Tasciotti Morodhi NCosta Naim Y Nan Nanvano Napalm NataliaS Nihal Ege Oscar Wu PabloNorte Palka25 Pang Liang Fong Parrot Pasha Globus Patrik Paul Schofield Peter Day Petteri Philipp Leu Phillipmeng Pink Bunny Piotr Wasil Plutomu Rachid Rahelka Red Reza Risson RobRos Roger Ourset Rogerding Rogerlee Roland Roman Bruehwiler Roman Raab Ronald Lange SHIHE HUANG Sachin Sascha Grabow Sclowitz Sergio Arjona Shyeen Simisingh3 Simmot2019Z Socon Solivagant Squiffy Sschooler Stanislaw Warwas Stijn Sun_jianyuan@me.com Susan Mead Sutul Suzanne Szucs Tamas Tamara Ratz Tammy Gouldstone Tarquinio_Superbo Tevity Thomas Buechler Thomas van der Walt TimAllen Timothy C Easton Timothyyy Tonisan Tony H. Tony0001 Topaas Torkjell Djupedal Travel Addicts Triath Tsunami Usagi1974 ValeriiaK Van Hung Vanessa Buechler Vernon Prieto Viaje al Patrimonio Vicente B. Avanzado Jr. Vidiot Viktor_balandin Viv Volkanisb WalGra Walter H. WantRain Waxwing Werner Huber Westwards Wojciech Fedoruk Wolfgang Hlousa WolfgangHl Worldstuwim Wouter Wtrentfox Xinyue(Alice) Sun Xiong Wei Yevhen Ivanovych ZivaB Zos M Zoë Sheng Zsuzsanna Forray