The Underground City

An ancient underground city was found carved out of a terraced stone, located in Derinkuyu district in Nevşehir Province, Turkey. It is the largest excavated underground city in Turkey and is one of several underground complexes and properties found throughout Cappadocia.

According to the National Turkish Department of Culture, the city of Derinkuyu was formed in the Byzantine era. It was used as a shelter during the Byzantine-Muslim war. Later it was discovered the city was connected to different underground cities throughout a series of rooms and tunnels. These cities continued to be used by the Christian natives as a protection from the Mongolian incursions of Timur in the 14th century.

Cappadocia’s largest underground complex is a multi-level (18 floors), and extends to a depth of about 85 meters (279 ft.). It was large enough to accommodate up to 20,000 people along with their belongings and food supplies. With fresh running water, ventilation holes and separate houses or “apartments“, shops, common rooms, wells, tombs, armory and escape streets.

It has multi-level floors, each floor can be closed off separately, and the whole city can be closed from the inside with large stone doors. On the second floor you can find a room with a barrel-vaulted ceiling which was used as a religious school and the rooms to the left were used for studies.

A series of vertical stairs starts between the third and fourth levels, leading to the church of the cross on the lowest (fifth) level.

The complex is fully air-conditioned, with 52 developed air wells discovered so far, including one 55 m deep. Some of the wells were not connected to the surface, perhaps to protect residents from being poisoned during raids.

We can also talk about Tatlarin (The Castle). The village of Tatlarin, located 10 km north of the town of Acigol, is one of the highlights of Cappadocia both for its underground settlements and churches and for the architecture of its houses. The underground settlement, located on a hill called a ‘fort’ by the villagers. 

The underground settlement of Derinkuyu was opened to visitors in 1965, with about half of the underground city currently accessible, but only 10 have been visited so far. Entry through the tunnel crawls almost occasionally to force invaders into one file. And as for The village of Tatlarin only two floors can be visited.

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