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Derinkuyu underground city in Cappadocia, Turkey.

First Known Ancient Underground City in Turkey used for Permanent Living Will Rewrite History


In December last year, an ancient subterranean city was discovered in Cappadocia, Turkey, consisting of at least 7 kilometers (3.5 miles) of tunnels, hidden churches, and escape galleries dating back around 5,000 years. Archaeologists hailed it as the “biggest archaeological finding in 2014” in Turkey. Now, following extensive excavations, the mayor in the Central Anatolian Nevşehir province has announced that it is the first known underground city in which people lived permanently.

Through the ages, the Hittites, Persians, Alexander the Great, Rome, The Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Turkey have all governed the spectacular region of Cappadocia in Central Anatolia. One hundred square miles with more than 200 underground villages and tunnel towns complete with hidden passages, secret rooms and ancient temples and a remarkably storied history of each new civilization building on the work of the last, make Cappadocia one of the world's most striking and largest cave-dwelling regions of the world. Cities, empires and religions have risen and fallen around these unique underground havens, and yet it seems they still hold a few more secrets. The mayor of the region has announced that the recently discovered ancient subterranean world may “rewrite the history of the city.”

The incredible cave houses of Cappadocia, Turkey.

The incredible cave houses of Cappadocia, Turkey. Source: BigStockPhoto

The ancient city was found beneath Nevşehir fortress and the surrounding area, during an urban transformation project carried out by Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ).

Nevşehir province is already famous for its incredible subterranean city at Derinkuyu (pictured in featured image), which was once home to as many as 20,000 residents. 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.

Nevşehir province in Cappadocia, Turkey

Nevşehir province in Cappadocia, Turkey (Wikimedia Commons)

Unlike other underground cities found throughout the region of Cappadocia, which were mostly used for temporary protection, Hurriyet Daily News reports that evidence has been found that ancient peoples were living there on a permanent basis, and that the subterranean passages and spaces are different to any other underground city found in the world.

“We have reached significant discoveries; new long tunnels and spaces where people lived all together. Places where linseed oil was produced, chapels and tunnels combining various living spaces in the underground city were found,” said Hasan Ünver, the mayor of Nevşehir. “This is a real underground city where they resided permanently and not like other underground cities where they had lived temporarily. We are definite that we will also reach very important information and discoveries regarding world history,” Ünver added [via Hurriyet Daily News].

An excavated section of the recently discovered underground city in Turkey, showing evidence of permanent habitation.

An excavated section of the recently discovered underground city in Turkey, showing evidence of permanent habitation. Credit: Anadolu Agency.

It is hard to imagine anything surpassing the Derinkuyu underground city in both size and scope, but archaeologists are saying they have reason to believe the newly discovered subterranean city will be the largest out of all the other underground cities in Nevşehir and may even be the largest underground city in the world.

The mayor has said that they are planning to open the first part of the excavated underground city in 2017.

Featured image: Derinkuyu underground city in Cappadocia, Turkey. Source: BigStockPhoto

By: April Holloway



SJDF's picture

I find these fasanating, but the question of “how” and more importenly “why” were thay made? 

And maybe think about living in those caves, Turks!

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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