Concealed beneath the plains of Cappadocia in central Anatolia there lies an underground city carved out of volcanic rock. The most well known of these cities is Derinkuyu, which, it is estimated, could accommodate up to 30,000 people. The first of the tunnels and caves were carved more than 4000 years ago and were occupied by 700 BCE.
Derinkuyu, which means "Deep Well", goes down several levels. In fact, only eight have been found, but there are rumored to be hundreds to be explored. The extensive network of passageways links thousands of rooms, some cavernous, that provided both living conditions and a self contained community including churches, and even a stable and wine making facilities.
Even more advanced and fascinating are the ventilation shafts which keep the air clean and breathable. There are also defensive structures in the way of secret tunnels, escape routes, and large circular "doors" what can be rolled in front of entrances to the tunnels. Those doors were fastened in place by means of a pole inserted through a central hole. Once the doors are in place, the hole would be used as an arrow slit.
The everyday lives of the peoples living underground eventually became too restrictive, so they eventually moved on to conventional towns.
The Derinkuyu Underground settlement was opened to visitors in 1965, but so far only 10% can be visited. There are several tours available for travelers staying in the area. The rate of the tour is 30 Euro per person including transfer to/from your hotel, entrance fee and professional guide. The tour takes around 2 hours. Visit Turkish Heritage Travel for more information.
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