Zelve Open Air Museum
Where is Zelve Open Air Museum?
Zelve Open Air Museum is located only one mile away from Pasabag – Monks Valley. Among with Pasabag – Monks Valley, Zelve is also in the middle of three popular settlements of Cappadocia such as Avanos, Urgup and Goreme. While it is accessible with a nice panoramic walk from Goreme, there are also mutual shuttle busses stopping by Zelve from Avanos and Urgup. There is more information in our Pasabag – Monks Valley blog about how to get to Zelve and Pasabag – Monks Valley area.
Why Zelve is very different from Pasabag – Monks Valley?
Cappadocia was created by volcanic activities. Three main and many small volcanic chimneys erupted in the region. They sprayed enormous amounts of different volcanic rocks. On the way to Zelve Open Air Museum, you can see the three main volcanic ignimbrite layers of Cappadocia. They are distinguished form each other thanks to the natural colors of the rocks. Minerals inside the volcanic tuff dioxide because of water and oxygen in the air and give the color we see today. The volcanic tuff of Pasabag – Monks Valley is rich in sulfur and chalk. As a result, yellow and white are the dominant colors of Pasabag – Monks Valley. The ignimbrites of Zelve Open Air Museum are containing iron minerals which give the red color to the three valleys of the Open Air Museum. Another difference of Zelve from many other attractions of Cappadocia is the number of troglodyte houses found in the museum. The dovecotes carved on top of the hills are impressive. While approaching to Zelve Open Air Museum, one don’t expect to see such a huge settlement behind the trees and cafes around the entrance of the museum. Thirty steps after the ticket office, you will be amazed to see the huge size of Zelve settlement. There are three valleys extending into the volcanic hills to East. The valleys are embroidered with hand carved caves. The hill tops are full of pigeon houses. Zelve Open Air Museum is very rich in history and culture. While walking in the open air museum, you are encountering a mill stone, church, mosque, barn, winery, pigeon housesand a common bath. Zelve has everything a medieval Cappadocian village had. That is also the main difference of Zelve from Pasabag – Monks Valley.
What to see in Zelve Open Air Museum?
After getting your tickets and entering to Zelve, you can see the small circular stage on the left. When you walk straight, you will reach to the third valley where the mill stone is on the left of the stairs. It is unbelievable that the millstone way used by the locals of Cappadocia until 1960s. Zelve was converted to an open air museum in 1960s and the last residents of the village were relocated to Aktepe Village which is only two kilometers away. I remember the seniors of Aktepe Village remembering their parents bringing wheat to be processed in the mill of Zelve. A few stairs after the mill, you can reach to Fish and Grape Church. The church was named after the pictures of the two fishes and a few grapes in the apses of the temple. The Christians of Cappadocia believed that a piece of the True Cross of Jesus was in the main apse of the church. Church of the Holy Cross is the original name of the structure. These two structures are located in the third valley of Zelve Open Air Museum. The stairs across the Fish and Grape Church will take you to the second valley. Second valley is the longest and widest part of Zelve and full of cave dwellings. During the walk, you are able to see a few churches, kitchens, dwellings and dovecots carved like an ant house to the slopes of red volcanic hills. There are small fairy chimneys on top of the valleys of Zelve which are creating phenomenal silhouette photo opportunities in a sunny day. When you reach to the first valley you will encounter the first mosque ever built in Cappadocia region by the Turkish settlers. Mosque of Zelve seems like a church because of the naïve minaret. Travelers see giant mosques companied by tall minarets before coming to Cappadocia and don’t expect a mosque to have such a small but intricate minaret. The wide opening in front of the mosque was the village quarter which had a bath and a social center across the valley. Monastery was neighboring the mosque. Today a tree is hanging from the top of the monastery which is a system of caves carved into the mountain. When you continue deeper into the first valley, you will get very close to impressive dovecots with beautiful symbols and paintings on their windows. A few more kitchens, stall and a cave house can be seen right next to the pigeon houses. You need to get back to the second valley to leave Zelve Open Air Museum.
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