Cappadocia Underground Cities
Cappadocia Underground Cities History, Map and Facts
Cappadocia amazes the people with its distinctive landscape and atmosphere. Cappadocia‘s primary attractions are the natural ones such as Fairy Chimneys, Caves and Valleys. On the other hand, Cappadocia has man-made attractions too. Among those sights, underground cities are truly amazing.
Cappadocia Underground Cities History
The history of Cappadocia underground cities dating back before Christianity. During the Ancient Ages, people carved the soft volcanic rocks and created spaces to live.
Then the question arises in people’s mind: “Why on the earth these people chose to live 7 levels under the ground, instead of enjoying the beautiful lands of Cappadocia?”. The answer to this question is actually quite simple. The reason people flee to underground shelters is to protect themselves from endless wars and to protect what they had.
Facts About the Underground Cities
During the Ancient Age, Europe, Anatolia and Mesopotamia were the cradle of civilizations. These lands were suitable for farming and rich in water sources. Therefore clans and tribes were in a great competition to capture these areas.
The people of Cappadocia carved these underground tunnels to hide their children and animals from any kind of attacks. It could have been a big battle (Greco-Persian Wars, Alexander The Great, Roman Empire) or smaller threats like neighbor city’s plunder. They had been using these underground spaces like the modern day underground safety bunkers.
They improved their techniques in time. Every new generation added some new rooms for some new needs. Eventually this underground rooms became underground cities. People probably lived in these places for months. Especially when they expect a great war in their region.
Cappadocia Underground Cities History, Map, Facts
Early Christians in Anatolia
Early Christians were not welcomed in the Pagan World. The Roman Empire persecuted the Christians and banned building any Churches. Therefore Christians found some remote places like Cappadocia.
During the tough years of Christians (from the time of Jesus Christ to Emperor Constantine the Great) they survived in caves, valleys, mountains. Cappadocia provided a great landscape for these purposes. They used these ancient underground cities to hide and pray.
Finally, in 313, Emperor Constantine published Edict of Milan, which he declared to free Christianity. It was a great relief for believers. This decision was a great relief for Christians. However, they did not leave Cappadocia. They made this region a monastery area where they could freely live their religions.
Best Underground Cities to Visit in Cappadocia
There are 200 underground cities in Cappadocia. Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are the most popular underground cities. The interior tempreture is fixed to 13 celcius degrees. If you visit these places in summer, a light jacket might be useful.
Besides there is no facilities within these sights. It’s recommended to have a bottle of water and comfortable walking shoes. Walking on these ancient ground might be a little bit disturbing.
Derinkuyu Underground City
Underground cities were built for people to use as shelter for a short time. But new needs arose because of endless wars and raids. As the time spent in underground cities increased, ventilation systems, churches, meeting rooms and even stables were added.
Derinkuyu is an underground city where you can observe this complex structure. For more information, see the Derinkuyu Underground City blog post.
Kaymakli Underground City
The history of the Kaymakli Underground City dates back to 3000 BC. According to some historians, it was founded during the Hittites. The Hittites were a civilization that ruled Anatolia for a long time. They fought against ancient Egypt for a period.
Considering the Hittites built underground cities, they may have used them for military purposes. Because there were many battles in this region, including the famous war between the ancient Egyptian king Ramesses II and the Hittite king Muwatalli. Kaymakli is one of the most functional underground cities in Cappadocia. There is even a wine cellar and a meeting room.
Cappadocia Underground City Map
From the map above you can see how complex the underground cities are. The underground city on this map is known as Kaymakli. Together with Derinkuyu, Cappadocia is the most visited underground city.
Written by Serhat Engul