26-10-2022 - Places

Underground Cities of Cappadocia

The ancient underground cities of Cappadocia may strike the interest of even the most claustrophobic person! Every year tens of thousands of tourists around the world visit Cappadocia to discover these mysterious caves and learn about their history. The best way to see the underground cities is to join one of the daily tours – FREE with Cappadocia Travel Pass.

It is an unforgettable, fascinating phenomenon that geologically does not exist anywhere else in the world.


The history: Why did they build underground cities?

Protection! These underground caves housed up to 70,000 people. These inhabitants dug an underground network of caves, now 2000 years old, and became cities. They were initially built by the Phrygians in the 7th and 8th centuries, eventually changing hands to early Christians of the Byzantine era. The reason for their construction was for protection from the city’s enemies during the Byzantine wars.


The history: How did they build underground cities?

How they were built is a true miracle. How they managed (or what they used) to dig so deep and build such enormous living habitats is still a mystery, especially during a time when there was no technology. The cities, with word-of-mouth myths and jaw-dropping architecture, make one think deeply: “but HOW?” especially since they managed to remain like hidden gems for thousands of years. 

The inhabitants transported their ground-level life into the underground by building villages, and with connecting tunnels formed a web of villages that eventually made the underground cities. Thousands of people lived hidden underground without ever stepping outside, so they somehow built these cities with such complexity and size. The astonishing fact is that some of these cities go eight levels underground, with all-inclusive facilities for cooking, drainage, plumbing, chimneys, secret rooms, prayer spots, supply cabinets, and stables in order to manage it. Unbelievable isn’t it?

It’s so incredible that some even go as far as to question, were UFOs involved?:)


Two biggest open-to-visit underground cities of Cappadocia: Derinkuyu and Kaymakli


1) Derinkuyu Underground City


Derinkuyu district in Nevşehir extends in depth to approximately 85 meters (279 ft). It is around 30km south of Nevşehir. Only 8 of these layers are open for visitors and one can go deep into 50 meters in this underground city.

It was abandoned in the 1920s by the Cappadocian Greeks when they faced defeat during the Greek-Turkish war and the population exchange took place between the two countries.

Want to know a cool fact? Derinkuyu was only "re-discovered" in 1963 by an anonymous local. Before that, the underground cities were not known.


2) Kaymakli Underground City


Kaymakli district in Nevsehir is 8 levels deep but only 4 are open to the public, with the 4th level being 20 meters (65 ft) below ground. The levels are carved from soft volcanic stone and are connected by narrow tunnels.

Kaymakli Underground City is 19km south of Nevsehir.

It is truly a remarkable experience to visit these caves, so narrow and deep in nature, where you have to watch your head at times in order to stay safe. In addition, your imagination will go wild thinking about the ancient inhabitants and all that they built and endured during tough times only to protect themselves.

Cave Hotels

Unique and romantic. Authentic and beautiful. These and many more can be used to describe spending even one night in a cave hotel in Cappadocia. The unique landscapes of Cappadocia are reflected in the architecture of these natural structures. They are built on top of or near the actual caves and will allow you to live like the ancient times of this mystic town. 




How many underground cities are there in Cappadocia?

Around 200 underground cities exist in Cappadocia. Only a few are open to the public. 

What is the main purpose of the underground cities’ existence?

Protection from the enemy was the main reason for the underground cities’ existence. 

How much does the entrance cost?

The entrance costs around 50 TL but is FREE with Cappadocia Travel Pass.

How long does it take to visit the underground cities?

The visits usually take around 30 minutes, depending on your curiosity.  People with claustrophobia are advised to reconsider before visiting. 

Which underground city should I visit: Kaymakli or Derinkuyu?

Even though Kaymakli is the second biggest in terms of size, it is much more informative compared to Derinkuyu. Tour guides usually suggest visiting Kaymakli instead of Derinkuyu, because Derinkuyu is a lot bigger and you need to use your imagination a lot more than Kaymakli. 

How do I get to the underground cities of Cappadocia?

Kaymakli Underground City is 19km, whereas Derinkuyu is around 30km south of Nevsehir. Derinkuyu will take around 45 minutes by car/bus or shuttle transportation, and Kaymakli is slightly less. 

When can I visit the underground cities?

You can visit them 6 days a week except for Monday.

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