The first museum was founded in 1967 in Nevşehir. With the foundation of the museum, the layout of the ruin places that were ignored before, the restoration and conservation of the churches and cleaning and lighting of the underground cities was taken into agenda.
The opinion of founding a museum was put forward by Hamit Özalp, who was the director of the Central Library at that time. Özalp kept the historical opuses he collected from the surrounding in 1963 - 1964 in a room of the library. Özalp's efforts reached a result and the General Directorate of Ancient Opuses and Museums decided to open a museum in Nevşehir in 1966. The soup kitchen and the school, which were parts of Damat İbrahim Paşa komplex, were restored for use as a museum. The exhibition and arrangement works were completed at the end of 1966 and the museum has been opened for visit as the Damat İbrahim Paşa Archaeology and Ethnography Museum. In 1987, it has been moved to its current place in the Culture Site. There are two exhibition halls in the museum for archaeological and ethnographic exhibition.
In accordance with 1997 opus count in the Nevşehir Museum, there is a total of 13160 opuses in the museum: 2854 archaeological, 3210 ethnographic, 6914 coins, 2 tablets, 93 seals and seal stamps, 87 hand written books.
There are 358 registered buildings in the Nevşehir Provincial borders, 2 of which are military buildings, 69 are religious and cultural buildings and 287 civil architectures. Furthermore, there are 48 site areas, 33 of which are archaeological, 3 of which are urban, 4 of which are historical and 8 of which are natural.
RUIN PLACES CONNECTED TO THE NEVŞEHİR MUSEUM
Göreme Open - Air Museum
It is a rock settlement located 2 km to the east of Göreme Town at 13 km distance to Nevşehir. A monastery life has been lived in Göreme from the 4th century AD until the 13th century. There are churches, chapels, dining halls and seating places in almost all rock blocks.
The Göreme Open Air Museum of today is the place where this education system was started. Soğanlı, Ihlara, Açıksaray are locations where the same education system is seen later. The churches are painted in two types of techniques. The first is a painting made by directly smoothing the surface of the rock, and the second is a painting made on rock with the secco (tempera) and fresco techniques. The themes in the church are taken from the Bible and the life of Christ. In the Göreme Open - Air Museum, the Female and Male Monasteries, the St. Basil Church, the Elmalı Church, the St. Barbara Church, the Yılanlı Church, the Karanlık Church, the Çarıklı Church and the Tokalı Church exist.
The Monasteries of Priestesses and Priests
The rock mass consisting of 6 - 7 floors located to the left of the museum entrance is known as "The Monastery of Priestesses". This monastery's dining hall, a kitchen, a few rooms on the first floor, a destroyed chapel on the second floor can be visited. Its church on the 3rd floor (that is reached through a tunnel) has a cross dome, four columns and three absissas. The templon in the main apsis is not met in other churches in Göreme. There are red ornaments beside the Christ fresco made directly on rock. "The bolt stones" are used for closing the tunnels in case of a danger as it was done in the underground cities. In the Monastery of Priests on the right, the passages between the floors are closed because of erosion, therefore only a few rooms on the entrance floor can be seen.
St. Basil Chapel
It is at the entrance of the Göreme Open - Air Museum. There are grave hollows in the nartex which is separated with columns. The nave has a longitudinal cradle vault, a rectangular plan and three absissae. There are three absissae on the left long face of the rectangular nave. One of the abscissae is large and the other two are small. The church is dated to the 11th century.
The Scenes: On the main abscissa: the portrait of Christ, on the front face: Mary and child Christ;on the northern wall: St. Theodore on a horse; on the southern wall: St. George fighting with the dragon on horse, and St. Demetrius and 2 saints are painted.
The Elmalı Church
It has nine domes, four columns, a closed Greek cross plan and three absissae. Its main entrance is from the southern direction, and the entrance can be made through a tunnel opened from the northern side.
The first ornaments of the Elmalı Church are, as in the case of the St. Basil and the St. Barbara Churches, the cross and geometric motifs painted directly on the wall with red paint. The church is dated to the mid of the 11th century and beginning of the 12th century.
The Scenes: the Deesis, the birth, the worship of three astrologers, the baptism, the resurrection of Lazarus, the conversion, the entrance to Jerusalem, the last dinner, the betrayal, Christ on Golgota way, Christ on the cross, the burying of Christ, Christ's going down to hell, the women beside the empty grave, Christ going to the sky and the saints. Furthermore, the hospitality of the Prophet Abraham and the burning three Jewish Young men in oven taken from the Torah are pictured.
St. Barbara Chapel
It is behind the rock block in which Elmalı Kilise is located. It is cross planned and has two columns. The western, the northern and the southern cross arms are cradle vaulted, its centre is domed, the eastern cross arm and the two corners in the east are domed. It has one main, two supplementary absissae.
The motifs are drawn directly on a rock with red paint. There are rich geometric motifs, mythological animals and military symbols on the walls and the dome. Furthermore, there are motifs on the wall that seem to be a stone. The church is dated to the second half of the 11th century.
The Scenes: On the main abscissa: Chris pantocrator; on the northern cross arm: St. George fighting with the dragon on a horse and St. Theodore; on the western cross arm: St. Barbara are pictured.
The Yılanlı (St. Onuphrius) Church
Its entrance is from the north. The main place has a longitudinal rectangular plan. It is cradle vaulted and the additional place in the south has a flat ceiling. Its abscissa is carved in the left long wall and the church was abandoned before the completion.
On both sides of the church vault, the pictures of respected saints of Cappadocia can be found. The church is dated to the 11th century.
The Scenes: Just across the entrance, Christ holding the Bible in his left hand; in the east of the vault: St. Onesimus, St. George fighting with the dragon, St. Theodore, Helena holding the real cross and her son Konstantin; in the west of the vault: naked St. Onuphrius with long hair and a palm tree in front of him, beside him St. Thomas in a blessing position and St. Basil with a book in his hand are pictured.
In the 1st century AD, people called "Hermits", who devoted themselves to religion and withdrew to solitude, lived in Egyptian deserts. The last hermit St. Paphnutius, went to Egyptian deserts in order to learn the life and life style of the hermist in the 4th century AD and met St. Onuphrius who gave his name to the church. St. Paphnutius was around when St. Onuphrius was dying. Because, St. Onuphrius was the best example of virtue and overcoming fleshy cravings. In the pictures, St. Onuphrius is naked, has long hair and a huge body and stands in front of a palm tree.
The Pantry /The Kitchen /The Dining Hall
The three buildings are side by side and are connected with each other. In the first place that is used as a pantry, there are holes for storing the provisions. In the kitchen, there is an oven called "tandır" that is still used in the villages of the region. In the last section, the dining hall exists. There is a stone bench and a table to the left side of the entrance where 40 - 50 persons can eat. There is a grape must house for squashing grapes to the right of the table.
The Karanlık Church
The cradle vaulted rectangular nartex of the church is reached via a curved ladder in the north. In the south of the nartex, there is a grave. The church has a cross plan, the arms of the cross are cross-vaulted, its centre is domed, and it has four columns and three absissae.
The reason for being named the Karanlık (Dark) Church is that it gets a very small amount of light from a small window in the nartex part. For this reason, the colors in the frescos are very lively.
The church and the nartex have rich ornaments including the Bible and Christ syclus. Furthermore, as in the Elmalı and the Çarıklı Churches, the scenes taken from the Torah are pictured. The church is dated to the end of the 11th century and the beginning of the 12th century.
The Scenes: the Deesis, the joyful tiding, the journey to Beytüllahim, the birth, the worship of three astrologers, the babtism, the resurrection of Lazarus, the conversion, the entrance to Jerusalem, the last dinner, the betrayal, Christ on a cross, Christ's going down to hell, women in front of the empty grave, the blessing and the charging of the disciples, the rising of Christ to sky, the hospitality of the Prophet Abraham, burning of three Jewish young men and the pictures of the saints.
The St. Catherine Chapel
In the St. Catherine Chapel that is between the Karanlık Church and the Çarıklı Church, both the nartex and the naos are free cross planned and central domed; the cross arms are cradle vaulted and absissa temploned. There are nine graves on the nartex floor and two niche graves in the walls.
There are figures only in the naos part of the chapel. The pandantives are covered with the relief geometric ornaments. The St. Catherine Chapel, which is built on the money donated by a person called Anna, and is dated to the 11th century. The Scenes: the Deesis in the temploned abscissa, below this: the church fathers in medallions, (Gregory, Basil, Johm Chrysostom), on the southern wall of the northern cross arm: St George on horse; across from it: St. Theodore, St Catherine and other pictures of the saints.
The Çarıklı Church
It has two columns (other columns are in the form of the parts of the wall corners), it is cross vaulted, it has three absissae and four domes. In the scenes, the syclus representing the life of Christ, the Torah scene showing the hospitality of the Prophet Abraham, the saint and the bani representations are well - protected. It is similar to the Elmalı and the Karanlık Churches, however the scenes of the crucification of Christ and taking Christ from the cross are the different features of the church. The figures are generally big and long.
It is thought that the church is named as "The Çarıklı Church" because of the footprints below the scene of Christ's rising to the sky. The church is dated to the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th century.
In the middle of the main dome, Pantokrator Christ and angel busts in medallions are located. Furthermore, the representation of the Deesis on the main abscissa, Mary and child Christ on the northern abscissa and Angel Micheal on the southern abscissa are pictured.
The Scenes: the birth, the worship of three astrologers, the baptism, the resurrection of Lazarus, the conversion, the entrance to Jerusalem, the betrayal, women in front of an empty grave, Christ's rising to the sky and saint representations.
The Tokalı Church
It is the most ancient rock church of the region and it consists of 4 places: The Old Church with the Single Neve, The New Church, The Church below the Old Church, The Side Chapel in the north of the New Church.
The Old Church dated to the beginning of the 10th century is in the form of the entrance place of the New Church today, however originally it was a single – nave building with cradle vault. Its abscissa has completely been destroyed during the addition of the New Church in the east of it. The scenes are located on the vault surface and on the upper part of the walls. The syclus including the life of Christ is divided into panels in the vault and the scenes start on the right wing and follow to the left wing.
The Scenes: In the middle of the vault the saint representations; in the right wing on the upper panel: the joyful tidings, the visit, the evidence of virginity, the journey to Beytüllahim, the birth; on the upper panel in the left wing: the worship of three astrologers, the slaughter of innocent children, the escape to Egypt, the introduction of Christ to the temple, the murder of Zekeriya; on the mid panel in the right wing: the follow of Elizabeth, the charging of Baptist Yahya, the soothsaying of Baptist Yahya, the meeting of Christ with Baptist Yahya, the baptism, the Kana wedding; on the mid panel in the left wing: the the wine miracle, the reproduction of the bread and the fish, the charging of the disciples, the recovery of the blind man, the resurrection of Lazarus; on the lower panel in the right wing: the entrance to Jerusalem, the last dinner, the betrayal, Christ in front of Platus; on the lower panel in the right wing: Christ on Golgotha way, Christ on a cross, the taking of Christ from cross, the burying of Christ, women in front of the empty grave, Christ's going down to hell, Christ's rising to the sky. Under this panel: saint representations; over the entrance: the conversion scene.
Yeni Tokalı is longitudinally planned and has a simple cradle vault. There are four columns connected to each other in the eastern wall, a corridor risen behind the columns, the main absis and two supplementary absissae after the corridor. In the cradle vaulted nave, the syclus of Christ is represented in reddish and bluish colors in chronological order. The dark blue color is the most important feature distinguishing the Tokalı Church from the other churches.
In the longitudinal nave, the life of St. Basil, the representations of various saints and mostly scenes of the miracles of Christ are depicted. The Church is dated to the end of the 10th century and the beginning of the 11th century.
The Scenes: On the northern wing of the vault: the joyful tiding, the visit, the evidence of virginity, the birth and the worship of three astrologers; on the northern wall of the vault: the first dream of Yousef, the journey to Beytüllahim, the representation of eight saints in the niches below it, and at the lowest part: the call to Baptist Yahya, his being charged, the charging of the disciples, the Kana wedding; on the western wing: the escape to Egypt, the trial of Christ, Christ in temple when he was 12; at the centre of the vault: Christ's rising to the sky and the charging of the disciples in the way of God; on the southern wing of the vault: the first diacons, the undefinable angels; below this: the saint representation in the niches; and at the lowest part: the return of the son of the rich man, the return of the daughter of Jairus, the resurrection of Lazarus, the entrance to Jerusalem and the last dinner; on the western wing: the washing of feet; on the main abscissa: Christ on a cross, the taking of Christ from the cross, women in front of an empty grave, Christ's going down to hell; on the front side of the main absis: the first diacons, Christ and the woman from Samarra, Mary and child Christ in the niche; on the northern abscissa the appearance of the Prophets and the angels.
The Paşabağları and Zelve Ruin Places
The earth pillars that are 1 km apart can be best seen from the Zelve ruin place. In addition, the chapel constructed in the name of St. Simeon and many rock places exist are found there. The nationalization of this area and the performance of layout arrangement are planned.
The Zelve ruin place, that is not far Paşabağları, 2 km in from the Göreme - Avanos highway and that consists of 3 valleys is the location where the earth pillars are the densest. It has been one of the important residences and religion centres of the Christians. On the other hand, the first religious seminars were given to the priests in this region. The Balıklı, the Üzümlü and the Geyikli Churches are the most important churches of the valley and they belong to the pre - iconoclastic period.
There are monasteries, churches, residence locations, tunnels, mills, glasses, etc in the valley that was used for settlement until 1952.
The Çavuşin Church
It is beside the Göreme - Avanos road, 2.5 km away from Göreme. It has a single neve, a cradle vault, 3 absissae and its nartex has been destroyed. The Çavuşin Church that was constructed in the name of Emperor Nicephorus Phocas is dated to the year 964 - 965. The themes used in the church are taken from the Bible and the life of Christ as in other churches.
The Açıksaray Ruins
They are 3 km away from Gülşehir. It is an important ruin place with many locations carved into tuff rocks and with the churches. It is dated to the 9th - 10th century. The earth pillar in the form of a mushroom that is found here can only be seen only in the ruin place in Cappadocia.
The St. Jean Church
It is at the entrance of Gülşehir. It has 2 floors. On the lower floor there are wine cellar, water canals and graves. The upper floor is the church. Its walls are ornamented with the scenes taken from the Bible. After being restored by an archeologist-restaurateur Rıdvan İşler, it has taken its current form.
In the church including the syclus of Christ and the Bible, the scenes are in the form of friezes in bands. The yellow and brown colors are used on the black background. Plant and geometric motifs are seen in the niche vaults and faces. On the western and the southern walls, the Last Jurisdiction scene, which is rarely seen in the Cappadocia Region is depicted. In accordance with the inscription on the Church abscissa, the church is dated to the year 1212.
The Özkonak Underground City
The underground city in Özkonak Town that is 14 km away from Avanos. It is constructed on the northern slopes of İdiş Mountain, a location where the tuff layers consisting of volcanic granite layers are very thick. The underground city has not been completely cleaned yet, but the galleries spread to large cleaned areas are connected to each other through the tunnels.
The Kaymaklı Underground City
It is in the Kaymaklı Town of the Nevşehir Province. It is 20 km away from Nevşehir. It has 8 floors and its first floor was constructed in the Hittite Period. It has been converted into an underground city by carving and expanding other areas during the Roman and the Byzantine Periods. Today, its 4 floors are illuminated and opened for visit.
This underground city, which is carved into tuff rocks, has the necessary shelter conditions for a temporary living of a group. They have rooms and halls connected to each other with narrow corridors, wine depots, water tanks, a kitchen and provision depots, ventilation tunnels, water wells and large bolt stones that close the door from the inner side in order to prevent any danger that may come from the church and the external environment.
The Derinkuyu Underground City
It is in the Derinkuyu District that is 30 km away from Nevşehir, on the Nevşehir - Niğde highway. As in the Kaymaklı Underground city, there are locations that can shelter a big group and meet their needs. This underground city consists of 8 floors. Being different from the Kaymaklı underground city, there is a missioner school, one confession place, a baptism pool and a well drawing the attention of the visitors.
The underground cities are the structures peculiar to the geological formations of Cappadocia region and such samples are not met in other regions.
The Mazı Underground Cities
The Mazı Village, whose archaic name was "Mataza", is 18 km to the south of Ürgüp and 10 km to the east of the Kaymaklı underground city. 4 entrances could be determined at different locations; its main entrance is provided with the corridor made of irregular stones. The large bolt stone in the short corridor takes the entrance and exit of the underground city under control. The small room in the internal side has been made to provide easy movement of the bolt stone. The stables that are spread to the wide areas of the underground settlement are not different from the others. From the stables, the church of the underground city is reached via a short corridor. The entrance of this place can be closed with a bolt stone. The abscissa of the church is carved in the corner and its front side is ornamented with a relief.
The Özlüce Underground City
The underground city in the centre of the Özlüce Village, whose old name was "Zile" is 6 km to the west of Kaymaklı town on the Nevşehir - Derinkuyu highway.
At the entrance, there is a place having two arches interlocked with each other. After that, through a passage of 15 m made of rubble stones, the main tuff rock is reached. The places made of stone providing an access to the underground city are newer in comparison with the rock - carved locations forming the main underground city. At the end of this corridor, the bolt stone made of hard granite stone having a diametre of 1.75 m is found.
The main place at the entrance is the largest area of the underground settlement and consists of two parts. On the right of the large place, there are the provision depots and to the left of it there are the living rooms. There are cell - type rooms at the sides of the galleries which are very long, and there are traps on the floors.
In case the electrical installation and layout arrangement are made, the Özlüce underground city can be opened for tourism.
The Tatlarin Church and The Underground City
It is 10 km away from the Acıgöl District of the Nevşehir Province. It is on the slope of the hill of the Tatlarin town, which is called the "Fort". The nartex of the church, which has two naves, two absissae and a cradle vault, has been destroyed. The scenes in the frescos that are protected very well are separated from each other with bands. Grey is used on the floor and purple, mustard and red are used in the representations.
The underground city, which was opened for visit in 1991, reminds a military garrison or a monastery complex because of the big number of its provision depots, its large places and the big number of churches. The underground city has spread to very large areas, but only a small part could be cleaned. The most important feature of the underground city, two floors of which can be visited now, is, that it has a toilet, which is not found in other underground cities.