Derinkuyu Underground City in Cappadocia.

Derinkuyu Underground City in Cappadocia is one of several large underground metropolia in the historic sites of Cappadocia. It is also the largest underground ancient city ever excavated in Turkey and is part of a network of several underground systems that have been found in Cappadocia. Derinkuyu underground settlement was opened to visitors in 1965, but so far only 10% can be visited. To enter into it must go through a tunnel and people have to crawl to get in.

One of the tunnels on the third level of Derinkuyu is believed to be connected to the nearest underground city of Kaymakli which is 5 km away. Until now, carbonate tests have not been carried out on the rocks in the cave, so it is difficult to reveal the age of the Derinkuyu underwater city.

Derinkuyu Settlement in Cappadocia
Multilevel Derinkuyu Underground City


cappadocia map
Cappadocia map

Derinkuyu the underground city of 20,000 inhabitants.

This historic city discovers accidentally in 1963 by a homeowner in the Central Anatolia region, Cappadocia, Turkey. While renovating his residence, he finds a secret room, which leads to an underground tunnel, which opens into an ancient city which positively hides. The city attaches to other underground cities through tunnels for miles.

Derinkuyu underground city has an area of 445 square kilometers, and has 600 doors and is at a depth of up to 18 underground levels (85 meters), and be able to hold around 20,000 residents. Derinkuyu City has been completely equipped with various facilities for its inhabitants, among others, kitchens, lavatories, stables, and other livestock, food warehouses, cemeteries, religious rituals, wells, to rooms like schools all in this underground city.

There are also more than 200 underground cities of at least two levels have been found in the area between Kayseri and Nevşehir, with around 40 of them having at least three levels. The cities of Troglodyte in Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı are two of the best examples of underground residence.  Derinkuyu underground city has at least eight levels which are open to the public with a depth of up to 85 meters.

There is also a spacious room with a barrel vaulted roof in the second level. It has been reported that this room was used as a religious class and the room on the left was a study place. Between the third and fourth levels, there are vertical stairs. This road leads to the church of the cross at the lowest (fifth) level. There is a ventilation shaft measuring 55 m (180 ft) appears to have been used as a well.

History of Derinkuyu underground city.

Even in Derinkuyu underground city, there have been found various other artifacts and historical relics, such as pottery, ceramic plates, drinking cups, attributes of religious rituals, and some daily supplies of people who used to live in Derinkuyu. Some artifacts found in these underground settlements are thought to be included in the Central Byzantine Period, between the 5th and 10th centuries AD.

Another source explains that Derinkuyu is also considered Ancient Hittie’s City, which means the Ancient City of the HET. HET people settled in Turkey in 1200-1900 BC. This underground city was founded before the collapse of the HET empire, in 1400 BC. It’s base on several findings that are thought to be the heritage of the HET nation, such as the HET-style stamp seal and a lion statue found around in the region.

According to records from ancient manuscripts, the HET is a nation that has a fairly high civilization and culture. But the greatness of the HET people had to end due to a catastrophe when the Thrace tribe attacked and destroyed the HET empire in 1200 BC. When the conflict occurred, the people hide in the basement of their houses, which dig with their own hands.


Some Theories: Origins of Derinkuyu underground city.

The Phrygians.

According to the Turkish Ministry of Culture, Derinkuyu was allegedly built by the Phrygians in the 8th-7th century BC, the underground city of Derinkuyu was expanded during the Byzantine Empire. The oldest written source of the city of the underground city is the writing of Xenophon (about 431-355SM). In Anabasis he wrote that people living in Anatolia dug underground parts of their homes and they lived underground with enough accommodation for families, livestock animals, and food reserves in underground warehouses.

cave-derinkuyuThe city in Derinkuyu fully formed in the Byzantine era (4th century AD) until 1923 and later expanded when it widely used as a protection from Muslim Abbasid Umayyad Muslims during the Arab-Byzantine war of the period 780-1180 AD. It was the time where most Greek chapels and inscriptions began to be added.

Furthermore, this underground city continued to be used as protection from the invasion of Eastern Mongolia in the 14th century. After the area finally fell into Ottoman hands, the cities were still used as sanctuaries. At the end of the 20th century the inhabitants of the city were called by the Greeks as Cappadocian (Cappadocia), and still used their dungeons to escape the periodic waves from Ottoman threats.

RM Dawkins, a Cambridge linguist who carried out research on Cappodocian natives in the area from 1909-1911, noted that in 1909, “when news of the recent massacre in Adana, most residents in Axo took refuge in the basement this land, and for a few nights they did not dare to sleep on the ground. ”

When the Christian population in the region was expelled in 1923 in exchange for a population between Greece and Turkey, Derinkuyu’s tunnel began to be left empty and finally forgotten. After several decades, then the tunnel was rediscovered in 1963 after a resident of the area found a mysterious room behind the walls of his house.

The discovery of the room was then reported and acted upon. Further excavations in the mysterious room finally penetrated to one of the accesses to the forgotten Derinkuyu underground city tunnel network. This also reveals tunnels with floors level in the ground 3000 years ago that look so amazing.

The Cavemen.

The Turkish archaeologist, Omer Demir, believes that the oldest part of the city dates back to the Palaeolithic period, around 8,500 BC. Because, there are traces of carved stone tools on the older walls, not carved with metal tools.

In addition, there is a room with a higher roof space. The earliest occupants are taller and carve a higher ceiling. This is obviously made by two types of humans generations, and those who carve the oldest parts are far higher than others. Chances are, this underground cave was used to take refuge in the “Small Ice Age” which occurred around the middle of the ninth Millennium before Christ for 500 years.


Yima Legend on the history of Derinkuyu underground city.

There are some assumptions that the underground city is even older than that. These caves were built by Persian King Yima. Yima is more of a mythological figure than the actual king, It’s said that Yima to have a lifespan of over 900 years. The Zoroastrian Manuscript “Vendidad” states that Yima built an underground city at the behest of the god Ahura Mazda, to protect the people from the disastrous winter.

Yima was ordered to gather the best animal and human pairs and the best seeds to regain Earth after the winter disaster. “Vendidad” was collected for centuries, probably beginning before the 8th century BC, although the story may have been passed down orally long before that. Some theories say that “winter” in the notes could refer to the ice age.

However, if this is true, the last ice age was between 110,000 and 10,000 years ago, placing the construction of Derinkuyu underground city in remote prehistory, if the “Vendidad” did refer to this city. “Vendidad” can also refer to all the major underground cities in Cappadocia as a sanctuary from destruction.

Also, read A Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia Underground Cities.





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