Underground cities are nothing new to us. History’s platter is full of these unique cities that were built during the ancient era. However, one of these underground cities requires special attention.
The Derinkuyu underground city in Turkey’s Nevşehir Province in Cappadocia is one of its kinds. What makes this underground city special? How big was the city? When was it built?
Questions like these must have flocked your mind by now. So, let us waste time no more and learn 15 interesting Derinkuyu underground city facts.
Derinkuyu Underground City Facts: 1-5
1. The historical Derinkuyu underground city is located in Cappadocia’s Nevşehir Province in Turkey. Cappadocia is historically popular because it houses over 200 underground cities.
2. Of those 200+ underground cities, the Derinkuyu underground city captures the limelight because of its extraordinary depths.
3. Unlike all other underground cities in the region which are 2 or 4 levels deep, the underground city of Derinkuyu is 18 stories deep and runs 60 meters below the surface. It is neither the oldest and not the largest underground city in world but it is definitely the deepest one in this world!
4. The most interesting fact about the city is that despite its amazing depth, it has a supply of fresh flowing water and fresh air even at the deepest point.
5. The entire complex is big enough to house 20,000 people and is complete with storage rooms, refectories, stables, oil presses, chapels and wine presses.
Derinkuyu Underground City Facts: 6-10
6. This subterranean city even had a missionary school.
7. The city probably worked as a bunker during natural disasters and/or raids by invaders.
8. The missionary school in the city was located on second floor. The room featured barrel vaulted ceiling.
9. To the left of the school are other rooms that were probably used as studies.
10. Vertical staircases from 3rd and 4th floor onward lead to cruciform plan church that is located in the lowest level of the city.
Derinkuyu Underground City Facts: 11-15
11. The city has a network of 1500 ventilation ducts that provided fresh air to the inhabitants of the city. These 1500 ventilation ducts are connected to a 55 meters deep ventilation shaft that was probably also used as a well.
12. The city has an extensive network of inclined corridors, stepped pits, tunnels and passages that helped to connect communal spaces and family rooms.
13. Even tombs are found in the city that were probably used for placing dead until the conditions outside were suitable enough for suitable disposal.
14. The city has several large circular stone doors that were carefully balanced and were meant for blocking corridors during invasions.
15. The doors can be operated only from inside and they resemble mill stones. These stone doors allowed to seal each level separately.
Derinkuyu Underground City Facts: 16-20
16. Not all levels of the city had surface connected wells in order to prevent poisoning by invading troops.
17. Turkish Department of Culture says that the caves were first built during the 7th – 8th BC but the city was eventually completed during the Byzantine Era. This subterranean city was in use as late as early 20th century by the native Cappodocian Greeks. This was recorded by Cambridge linguist named Dawkins who conducted research in the area between 1909 and 1911. Dawkins wrote: “when the news came of the recent massacres at Adana, a great part of the population at Axo took refuge in these underground chambers, and for some nights did not venture to sleep above ground.”
18. In 1923, the Christian inhabitants of the region were expelled during Population exchange between Greece and Turkey and the tunnels were completely abandoned.
19. In 1963, a local resident was renovating his house when he accidentally found a mysterious room hidden behind the walls of his house. He did some digging and found the network of tunnels that eventually revealed the Derinkuyu underground city.
20. The subterranean city was opened for tourism in 1969 but visitors are allowed only up to level 8.