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The Ancient Underground Cave Cities of Turkey

Cappadocia is an amazing place having so many wonders to see, like the natural geological formations called the “Fairy Chimneys,” the open-air museum that consists of cave churches, nunneries and monastery, and the underground cave cities.

Cappadocia is an amazing place having so many wonders to see, like the natural geological formations called the “Fairy Chimneys,” the open-air museum that consists of cave churches, nunneries and monastery, and the underground cave cities.

During the second millennium BC, the Hittites invaded Asia Minor. They carved chambers underground to make them granaries. The cool temperature of 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit preserves the grain well. When the Hittites mysteriously disappeared, the Phyrgians were the next settlers to occupy the lands. History saw a long parade of over a dozen civilizations, each in turn adding its influence to a rich mix of cultures. Cappadocia's fertile plains also brought wealth to all its rulers.

All of those early civilizations who took over the land used the underground chambers to store grain and, perhaps, as short-term shelter from invaders. But during the first centuries after the time of Jesus, when persecuted Christians sought places of worship, they carved deep into the rock, adding to those chambers that was already there before, everything they needed like bedchambers, water tanks, flour mills, and stables, as well as other rooms that are important to them like churches, confessionals, seminaries, baptismal fonts, supply areas, chapels, stables, tombs, and even wineries. The cities were complete with wells, chimneys for air circulation, and niches for oil lamps, stores, and water tanks. They were built to withstand attack and could support large numbers of people and their domestic animals, for long periods of time. It is also where Christians practiced their forbidden religion.

In 1963, townsfolk discovered the labyrinth by accident. Other discoveries followed and now, there were already some 150 known underground cities within Cappadocia, but there are others that the government hasn’t yet excavated. The largest and most elaborate among the subterranean cities are found at Kaymakl? and Derinkuyu. The biggest and deepest is the Derinkuyu Underground City. There are eleven floors and it extends at a depth of approximately 85 meters. There are still many floors that have not yet been excavated. It has all the amenities that you can find above ground. Stout rolling-stone doors prevented invaders from entering. Deep wells provided water, and tall chimneys provided ventilation. The city could accommodate between 3,000 to 50,000 people.

The Kaymakli underground city is built under the hill known as the Citadel of Kaymakli. It has low, narrow and sloping passages, and consists of eight floors. The first floor of the underground city is the stable; a church was on the second floor. On the third floor are storage places, wineries and kitchen. On the fourth floor are storage rooms and places to put earthenware jars. The city can accommodate 3,500 people.

Today, people in the villages use some of the cellars in the underground cities as storage rooms, and shelter for their animals. Every home aboveground had either its own entrance to the city, or a thin air duct that they could use to talk with those below.

Turkey opened five of these underground cities to the public, and it now became a great tourist spot in the region, and one of the many wonders of the world.

***All Images used are from Google Images

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Comments (19)

Wow...I had no idea that such places even existed in our world! This is a definite addition to the travel list! :)

Amazing! I love caves, esp. manmade ones like these.

Fascinating!

Ranked #17 in Europe

Another brilliant work on such incredible places. Excellent again, my friend.

Fascinating and amazing! (And we thought bomb shelters were an original idea in the 20th century!)

Excellent article Alma, very interesting and looks like a truly fasinating place to go! Great read and thanks for the tour!

Amazingly interesting Alma, thanks for sharing

Ranked #5 in Europe

If I read your article and see the beautiful pictures; I want to go back. Cappadocia is really "a must see" if you want to travel in Turkey. It belongs either to the asian part of Turkey.

This was a truly wonderful article! I love to look around caves, so much history and you can almost feel the souls of the long gone inhabitants! I live in the city of Nottingham England, It is also known as the city built on caves!!

Amazing!! It is a shame I have never been but at least I can always go since I live in the same country:) Great write as always, AJ. I know you are busy studying but I am missing your articles:)

Interesting and wonderful form of shelter I never knew existed.

amazing! I live in the city built on caves but these are truly beautiful!

Ranked #22 in Europe

This is incredible! I didn't know about this place. I knew Turkey had a great many ancient sites but hadn't heard of this and th pictures! Waw, this is just so cool! Great article, AJ, really interesting stuff :D

This is an amazing place you describe and what a rich history, voted up!

Excellent article. Love the pics.

This is a truly remarkable place!

Wow, you certainly use a lot of photos.

Rajgir is an interesting place for all holly & ancient places. The first Baudh conference was organized at Saptparni caves, Rajgir, which was chaired by Mahakashyapa. At this conference for the first time Suttapitaka and Vinayapitaka were read by Anand and Upali.

I have been in Cappadocia a few times. Cappadocia has amazing historical, cultural places and memories. See Cappadocia if you go to Turkey one day. Also you can have more information about Turkey tours or istanbul or Mediterranean.

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