Derinkuyu – The Deepest Cappadocia Underground City
Cappadocia, Turkey is famous for its hot air balloon rides and incredible landscapes but there are huge cities lurking deep beneath these. Reasons to visit the Cappadocia underground city of Derinkuyu include;
- See how 20,000 people could hide for months
- The deepest Cappadocia underground city
- 85 meters deep
- Visit underground schools, churches and stables
- Ascend and descend through narrow passages
- Potentially see a ghost
You can organise a tour to the Cappadocia underground city from whichever Goreme hotel you choose but do check out the Divan Cave House.
What is the purpose of the Cappadocia Underground City?
Today, of course the Cappadocia underground city is a tourist attraction but it wasn’t built so thousands of tourists could visit each year. Although, that would have been an excellent business venture! If you look at a map of the world, Turkey is a major crossing point between Asia and Europe. Imagine Genghis Khan from Mongolia, crossing on his way to Europe, would you stand in his way? I think you’d prefer to peacefully live underground for a while and keep out of his way. The underground city was fully created during the Arab Byzantine wars from 8th to 12th centuries. Another interesting fact is that the city was used by Cappadocian Greeks when Ottomans came to power. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the Cappadocia underground city became abandoned.
Up to 20,000 people and their cattle could stay in the underground city. For this reason it was a good idea to keep the entrances hidden. After all, if the Ottomans or Mongols found them, they would certainly be persecuted. So how did they keep the underground city hidden? They would simply close the entrances with huge stone doors. There are around 600 entrances to the city, as a result, when danger was present villagers could descend efficiently. There was a possibility of someone finding the entrances, or worse still, entering with an army. To counter this, each level of the underground city could be closed off separately. Maybe they would lose the top level but the deeper levels would be safe.
The ventilation shaft resembles the pit which Darth Vader threw the Emperor down in Star Wars. However, it is not a pit used for this purpose! Its purpose is to supply air to the lower levels of Cappadocia underground city. You’ll see the shaft from ground level but the best view is from the highest floor of the city. As well as supplying air to the underground city, it was used as a well. It’s a water supply for those in hiding or for the village when not in hiding. Imagine being in hiding when Genghis Khan and his army used the well for their own water replenishment!
Ghosts in Cappadocia Underground City
A lot of people have died in the Cappadocia underground city. Maybe they died here of disease, of natural causes or maybe they were slaughtered by an army. I certainly would not like to sleep down there. However, as you walk around, the shadows you see are more likely your own or from other tourists. Imagine hiding down here without lights, knowing there were enemies on ground level looking for you.
Exploring Derinkuyu Underground City
When the whole town descended on the underground city, there were up to 20,000 of them. They had to live down here for an unknown length of time, often months. For this reason they had all the facilities of a regular city. As you explore, you’ll visit stables, storage rooms, schools, churches, dining rooms and even wineries! It’s incredible how a functioning society could adapt to life underground.
Ascending and Descending through Narrow Tunnels
As you ascend and descend, you’ll pass through several tight staircases. In fact some of the passages got quite tight, maybe as small as a meter in height. Add this to the fact you’re getting deeper and deeper means it can be a claustrophobic experience. I would hate to be down here when there is a power cut, as a matter of fact, does Turkey experience many power cuts? If you’re an incredibly tall person you’ll be challenged as you explore the Derinkuyu underground city. Whatever you do, don’t leave your guide, it could lead you to be lost, forever wandering the underground.
Enjoy your visit to the Cappadocia Underground City of Derinkuyu
Those who love Instagram photography will enjoy posing in the narrow passages of the city. In addition, there are not many places where you can visit an underground city chiseled into volcanic rock. I definitely recommend you add this trip to your Cappadocia itinerary.
Check out the Edinburgh Underground City in Scotland.