20-01-2023 - Places

Everything About Derinkuyu Underground City: the History and Today in 2023

Cappadocia is full of mysteries and Derinkuyu Underground City is the deepest of them! When we talk about Cappadocia, always beautiful fairy chimneys and balloons come to our minds but underneath it all, there is another completely different world underground! 

In this article, we will be looking at the history and today of Derinkuyu Underground City. But before we dig in, let’s have a look at the Cappadocia Travel Pass® for a moment. Cappadocia Travel Pass® is created by an old and reliable tourism firm that also created the Istanbul Tourist Pass®

In tourism reliability and experience matter. That’s why we are comfortable to say that Cappadocia Travel Pass® is the right choice if you wish to travel around this beautiful region. Here are all the attractions this Pass includes and one of them is the entrance to Derinkuyu Underground City. Discover the most with this Pass without worrying about tickets, prices, or lines. Now, let’s start our journey into the amazing Derinkuyu.

About Derinkuyu Underground City


Derinkuyu Underground City is a historic multi-level underground city. The depth of it is about 85 meters, just think of a 25-story building, that’s how deep it is. The city has the capacity to have up to 20.000 people with their food supplies, livestock, and other items. So, it is fair to say that it is huge! There are more than 200 underground cities in the Cappadocia region but only a few of them are unearthed today and open to visitors. Derinkuyu is the biggest one so far. 

The sophisticated ventilation system and well-protected well that would have provided the entire city with pure water and fresh air are Derinkuyu's most outstanding features. In fact, it's believed that these two crucial components were at the center of Derinkuyu's early development. To prevent a possibly fatal attack on its air supply, the city was spread with more than 50 ventilation shafts, allowing for natural airflow between its numerous homes and passageways. The well was more than 55 meters deep, and city residents could simply block it off from below. It is actually pretty amazing to see how incredibly constructed these underground cities so if you are around don’t miss the chance and see it yourself. 

History of Derinkuyu Underground City


The region is built on soft volcanic rock so very easy to dig caves into them. It is thought that the first caves were built initially by the Phrygians in the 8th–7th centuries BC. After a long period, the Christian inhabitants continued to expand these caverns to deep multiple-level structures adding chapels and inscriptions.

The city at Derinkuyu was fully formed in the Byzantine era. The underground city was heavily used as protection from Muslim Arabs during the Arab–Byzantine wars between 780–1180 AD. Through 8–9 kilometers of tunnels, the city was linked to another underground city, Kaymakli Underground City. There are artifacts uncovered in these underground settlements belonging to the Middle Byzantine Period, between the 5th and the 10th centuries. Underground cities were a place to hide for inhabitants throughout history. Christians in the region used these places also to hide from the Mongolian incursions of Timur in the 14th century.

The cities were used by the Christian locals as safe havens from the Turkish Muslim authorities when the territory was conquered by the Ottomans. The local Cappadocian Greek people continued to use the underground cities to flee sporadic persecutions as late as the 20th century.

The tunnels were abandoned after the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, which resulted in the expulsion of the area's Christian residents from Turkey and their relocation to Greece.

Derinkuyu Underground City was rediscovered in 1963 after a local man who was repairing his home noticed a mysterious room hidden behind a wall. Additional digging uncovered a network of tunnels.

Scientists found a multilevel complex comprising dwellings, kitchens, vineyards, chapels, staircases, and linseed presses used to make lamp oil to illuminate the underground city. Grinder stones, stone crosses, and ceramics are a few of the artifacts that show the city was inhabited from the Byzantine period until the Ottoman takeover. The city is self-sustainable and unbelievably large. Since 1985 it is welcoming tourists from all around the world. 

Visiting Derinkuyu Underground City 


In the province of Nevşehir, Derinkuyu is located around 40 kilometers south of Goreme. Derinkuyu can be reached by car or minibus. From the ground up, Derinkuyu appears to be a typical town with a few shops offering snacks and trinkets. A mosque and a few modest houses are present. However, old Derinkuyu is carved into the rock, spanning eight stories and 85 meters deep, and is hidden beneath streets.

FAQ

Do people live in Derinkuyu underground city?

Yes, people used this underground city for living, today it is only an archeological site and is open to visitors. 

Where is Derinkuyu Underground City?

The underground city is located 40 km south of Goreme Village in the Cappadocia region. 

Why was Derinkuyu abandoned?

After the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923, the tunnels were abandoned, and they weren't found again for another 40 years.

Can you visit the underground city in Turkey?

Yes, you can visit Derinkuyu and some other underground cities, and the best way is to have a Cappadocia Travel Pass. 

Who discovered Derinkuyu?

There are plenty of stories but the truth is a local found an entrance to a tunnel and then called for authorities. The scientists did the rest. 

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