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.
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