Zelve was long ago one of the largest communities in the region, an amazing caved city with a maze of houses and people of all kinds, whether they were Christian or Muslims. It is located about 10 kilometers from Goreme and Avanos.
Christian groups left the site after the population exchange with Greece and Muslims were doing it little by little, after the imminent danger of collapse, as the erosion process continues. The ancient inhabitants moved and created a modern village known as Yeni Zelve (“New Zelve”).
What today is known as the Open Air Museum of Zelve is precisely what was formerly Zelve, today a small ghost town in the rocks of Cappadocia. It is composed of three canyons that intersect at the entrance. To the first canyon, on the right side, you can access by a path between the first two, through the Geyikli Kilise (the Church of the Deer), with paintings of a cross, fish and deer.
In the first left side canyon you will find a mosque, built from an old church. Towards the end of the canyon two rock faces get together in a honeycomb of caves, houses, lofts, a monastery, storage rooms, chapels and tunnels that lead to the second barrel. We recommend not to climb up to these caves and pass through the tunnels.
We can also find the Uzumlu Kilise (The Church of the grapes), with bunches of grapes paintings that point to Dionysian rites dedicated later to the god of the Christians. Next to this building we find the Balikli Kilise or Church of the Fish. The fish paintings are very common throughout Cappadocia and symbolize the faithful who converted being baptized. The Greek acrostic of Fish, formed the phrase Jesus Christ, Son of God.