Exploring Derinkuyu - Cappadocia's Famous Underground City | Trekking Days
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Exploring Derinkuyu – Cappadocia’s Famous Underground City

by | Asia, Hotspots

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If you’re visiting Cappadocia, chances are you’ll want to visit Derinkuyu, one of the area’s most famous underground cities. This ancient city was carved out of the rock over a period of 800 years and served as a place of refuge for locals during times of war and invasion. Today, it is open to visitors and offers an interesting glimpse into its history. Whether you are planning to explore Derinkuyu in the near future or not, you might want to learn a few things about one of the world’s most famous underground cities.

Derinkuyu Facts

Derinkuyu has an estimated depth of around 280 ft (85 m) and is one of the largest and deepest underground cities in Cappadocia. Throughout history, this underground city was used as a refuge from enemy attacks and different forms of persecution.

The history of the city is not fully understood and sparks some controversy among archeologists and historians. Derinkuyu is thought to have been first inhabited in the Hittite period (1600-1200 BC). Others say that the builders of this city were Phrygians, who built it around the 8th Century- 7th Century BCE.

The earliest written record of Derinkuyu comes from the Greek historian Xenophon (ca. 430-354 BC), who mentions it as a city called Kappadokia. The underground city was used as a refuge from enemy attacks during the Byzantine period ( ca. 300-1453 AD) and later by the Muslims during the Ottoman period ( ca. 1299-1922 AD). The city was also used as protection from the Mongolian invasion of Timur in the 14th century CE. Some Byzantine historians believe that Derinkuyu had an important strategic role in the Byzantine-Arab wars (8th Century-12th centuries CE).

In the Roman Empire, Christians used Derinkuyu as a place to hide from persecution. You can still see the remnants of Christian places of worship on the walls of the city, such as crosses and images of saints.

Derinkuyu could accommodate up to 20,000 people and had all the amenities necessary for long-term habitation, including ventilation shafts, stables, wells, kitchens, storage rooms, and bathrooms.

It was connected to other underground cities in the Cappadocia region through a network of tunnels. These tunnels were used to transport food, water, and other supplies. The city also had all the amenities needed for long-term habitation, including food storage areas, stables, and even a school. It is thought that the tunnels connecting Derinkuyu to other underground cities served as an escape route for the locals.

As late as the 20th Century, Cappadocian Greeks were using Derinkuyu and other underground cities nearby to escape occasional persecutions. In the 1920s, a population exchange took place between Greece and Turkey, the moment at which the tunnels were abandoned.

The underground city was rediscovered in the 1960s. It is said that an inhabitant of Nevşehir was renovating his house when he broke through the wall of his cellar and found himself in a strange room. After some investigation, he realized that he had discovered an ancient underground city. The site was open to visitors in 1969, with about half of the city being accessible.

Somewhere in the city

Other arguably interesting facts:

-The city is thought to have been carved out of volcanic rock using only picks and hammers.

-The underground city has over 100 entrances, many of which were hidden behind false doors and walls.

-There are over 200 miles (320 km) of tunnels connecting the different levels and rooms of the city.

Cool Things to Know Before Exploring Derinkuyu

Visitors can explore the city’s many tunnels, staircases, and rooms, many of which are connected by staircases.

Derinkuyu has 8 levels, out of which 4 are open to the public. At the fourth level, you are already at 65 ft (20 m) underneath Cappadocia.

These stars should be used with caution

The first level was used as a stable for animals. Going down, you reach the quarters of the more prosperous families. The holes you will see are the places where the inhabitants used to sleep. At the lowest levels, you will find the places where more modest families lived, as well as cellars and storage rooms.

Large stones could be used as doors to close the city

At some other location in Derinkuyu
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Also in Derinkuyu

If you’re interested in exploring Derinkuyu for yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it can be quite cold underground, so be sure to dress warmly. Second, the city is quite large, so it’s a good idea to wear comfortable shoes. And finally, remember to bring a flashlight – there are no lights inside the city and it can be quite dark in some areas.

I’m convinced, I wanna go

Additional information:

Entrance Fee: The equivalent of around USD 7.

Signage/information: Limited

Time: In most cases, between 1 hour and 1 hour and half

Schedule: Open every day from 8 am to 7 pm during summer and from 10 am to 4 pm during winter. Always best to check for updates, just in case.

You Can Get to Derinkuyu by Bus, Car, or a Guided Tour

The fastest way to get to the underground city is by bus or car – including taxis. There are several companies that operate tours from Goreme and other nearby towns. If you’re driving, the city is located about an hour and a half from Goreme.

You can reach Derinkuyu from the Nevsehir Bus Terminal and also from the Göreme Bus Terminal. The line is not particularly active so it’s always best o plan ahead if you are going to use this route.

If you are looking for a guided tour that includes a visit to Derinkuyu, go here. For accommodation in Cappadocia, go here.

Perhaps It’s Time For Some Underground Trekking

If you’re interested in learning more about this ancient city, be sure to add Derinkuyu to your Cappadocia itinerary. With its hidden tunnels and chambers, this underground city is definitely one of Cappadocia’s most intriguing sights.


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