In 1963, a man in the Nevsehir Province of Turkey was doing a little home remodeling. He decided to knock down a wall of his home for an expansion. He discovered a hidden room behind the wall with a slender hallway carved out of the stone below his home. The hallway lead to a cave-like room which lead to more hallways and cave-like rooms. Before he knew it, he had stumbled onto an entire underground city that was attached to his home. The city was empty and abandoned, but it had every amenity you would need to sustain a society. What he had stumbled on by accident was Derinkuyu and the underground city of Cappadocia.
These tunnels are believed to be hand dug around the 12th and 15th century BCE. They sheltered the people, and their food, from the extreme climates above. They also served as protection from an enemy attack.
Here is a small drawing of what these underground cities look like. The ground is primarily made of ash and volcanic material making it easy to excavate, while still being very durable. No one is sure who first occupied the underground city, however it is certain that many groups have occupied it over the centuries.
With up to 11 floors at points accessible to the public, the city reaches depths of over 280 feet below the surface. There have been 11 floors that were excavated and deemed safe for tourism, however it is speculated that there are over 18 floors below that have yet to be discovered.
The miles upon miles of tunnels are blackened from centuries of torches traveling through them. The city connects to other cities in the area, spanning miles which would be able to sustain tens of thousands of people at one time.
The underground tunnels lead to giant rooms that housed schools, wine cellars, oil press rooms, churches, gathering halls, shops, tombs, arsenals, livestock corrals, escape routes, and water wells separated from the surface water.
There are over 100 entrances to the underground cities, but each and every one of them are hidden behind bushes or walls. Even courtyards had entrances that were hidden but big enough to move livestock in and out of.
The entrances and other important rooms were guarded with giant stone doors. They were hand carved and weigh up to 1,000 pounds, while some are over 5 feet in diameter.
Underground river systems were used as drinking sources in order to avoid being poisoned by surface water susceptible to enemies above ground.
How amazing is this place? I’m astounded that it was completely built by hand.
The size of the rooms is incredible. Right now about 10% of the underground city is open to the public but it was only discovered in 1963 so experts still have a lot to excavate and document.
This is one of the well shafts. They built it so that the vent shaft did not reach the surface. This would prevent any poisoning from enemies on the surface.
This is a vertical staircase leading to a floor below. These lead to most levels and can be very dangerous.
The tunnels were dug very narrow to force people to walk through them single file. This would give the people living in the underground cities an advantage over their enemies.
The amount of detail and time that went into each room is impressive, to say the least. To think that this may still be sitting undiscovered if it weren’t for one man who decided to remodel his home. He knocked down one wall and opened a door to another society completely hidden underground. A society hidden for thousands of years only to revealed in 1963.