Derinkuyu Underground City
is located in the homonymous Derinkuyu district in NevÅŸehir Province, Turkey.
It is on
the road between NevÅŸehir and NiÄŸde, at a distance of 29 km from NevÅŸehir.
An underground room (photo credit
It was opened for visitors as of 1969 and to date, only ten percent
of the underground city is accessible for tourists. Its eight
floors extend at a depth of approximately 85 m.
underground city at Derinkuyu has all the usual amenities found in
other underground complexes across Cappadocia, such as wine and oil presses, stables, cellars,
storage rooms, refectories, and chapels.
Unique to the
Derinkuyu complex and located on the second floor is a spacious
room with a barrel vaulted ceiling. It has been reported that this
room was used as a religious school and the rooms to the left were
Between the third and fourth levels is a vertical staircase. This
passage way leads to a cruciform church on the lowest level.
The large 55 m ventilation shaft appears to have been used as a
well. The shaft also provided water to both the villagers above
and, if the outside world was not accessible, to those in
built in the soft volcanic rock of the Cappadocia region by the Phrygians in
the 8thâ€“7th centuries B.C according to the Turkish Department of
Culture, the underground city at Derinkuyu was enlarged in the
could be closed from inside with large stone doors. With storerooms
and wells that made long stays possible, the city had air shafts
which are up to deep. Derinkuyu is the largest excavated underground city
in Turkey. The complex has
a total 11 floors, though many floors have not been excavated. Each
floor could be closed off separately. The city was connected with
other underground cities through miles of tunnels. The city could
accommodate between 3,000 and 50,000 people.
One of the heavy stone doors.
They have a height of 1â€“1,5 m, 30â€“50 cm in width and weigh
underground city of Derinkuyu was the hiding place for the first Christians who
were escaping from the persecution of the
The hole in the centre can be used to open or close the
millstone, or to see who is outside.
Everything discovered in these underground
settlements belongs to the Middle Byzantine Period, between the 5th
and the 10th centuries A.D. The number of underground settlements,
generally used for taking refuge and for religious purposes,
increased during this era. The Christian communities in the region
took refuge, closing the millstone doors, when they were subjected
to Arab raids which started in the 7th century. The raiders, aware
of the dangers awaiting them inside, tried to make the local people
leave their shelters by poisoning their wells.
An underground winery
Underground cities in Cappadocia generally had a number of features
in common: rooms for food storage, kitchens, churches, stables,
wine or oil presses, and shafts for ventilation. The underground
city in Derinkuyu, which covers eight levels and extends to a depth
of 85 meters, was large enough to shelter thousands of people
together with their livestock and food stores.
Other underground cities
NevÅŸehir Province has several other historical underground cities.
The cities and structures are carved out of unique geological
formations. They were used by Christians
as hiding places during times of persecution and raids. The
locations are now archaeological tourist attractions. They remain
generally unoccupied. In excess of 200 underground cities
containing a minimum of two levels have been discovered in the area
between Kayseri and Nevsehir.
40 of those contain a minimum of three levels or more. The troglodyte cities at KaymaklÄ± and Derinkuyu, are two of the best examples of
habitable underground structures.