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Ancient subterranean city of Cappadocia

Ancient subterranean city of Cappadocia takes on a new purpose


For thousands of years, people have inhabited caves and tunnels in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.  Cities, empires and religions have risen and fallen around these unique underground havens – through the ages, the Hittites, Persians, Alexander the Great, Rome, The Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Turkey have all governed this spectacular region of Central Anatolia.  Now, according to a news report in The Guardian, the subterranean city is serving a new purpose – as storage for vast quantities of agricultural produce.

Cappadocia covers the region between the cities of Nevşehir, Ürgüp and Avanos, the sites of Karain, Karlık, Yeşilöz, Soğanlı and the subterranean cities of Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu. One hundred square miles encompassing more than 200 underground villages and tunnel towns complete with hidden passages, secret rooms and ancient temples, make Cappadocia one of the world's most striking and largest cave-dwelling regions of the world.

Derinkuyu, in southern Cappadocia, was once home to as many as 20,000 residents living together underground. It is eleven levels deep and has 600 entrances and many miles of tunnels connecting it to other underground cities.  It incorporates areas for sleeping, stables for livestock, wells, water tanks, pits for cooking, ventilation shafts, communal rooms, bathrooms, and tombs.

A visual depiction of Derinkuyu

A visual depiction of Derinkuyu. Photo credit: Wikimedia

Long abandoned, the underground cities of Cappadocia have now been rediscovered for a very different purpose: the storage of produce, for which the underground caves with their constant underground temperate of about 13C make an ideal storage climate.  Retailers have begun storing thousands of tonnes of fruit and vegetables, which arrive from Turkey’s Mediterranean coast on trucks and are stored underground until it is needed for export to Europe, Russia, and elsewhere. 

Potatoes stored in the Cappadocia caves

Potatoes stored in the Cappadocia caves can stay fresh for many months. Photograph: Ali Kabas/Alamy

In the cool conditions of the caves, apples, cabbage and cauliflower can stay fresh for up to four weeks, while citrus fruits, pears, and potatoes can be kept for months. Thousands of years since they were first created, the underground cities of Cappadocia are growing once again.

Featured Image: The rock houses of Cappadocia. Photo credit: Curious Expeditions Creative Commons

By April Holloway



the caves are currently uninhabited except for bushels and bushels of produce and products.

i would imagine that the people who once lived there went above-ground for most of their day... cant grow crops underground unless youre cultivating cave mushrooms or the like.

I got a question : are people lived in underground always? how often people go out? I asked this because too much underground living causes unhealthy effects.

aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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