Derinkuyu Underground City is a rare structure in the world. Located in Nevsehir province of Cappadocia, Derinkuyu is one of the oldest underground cities in the world.
The underground cities of Cappadocia, with their history dating back to ancient times, give clues about the lifestyle of the people in that period. These underground tunnels, which people used to protect themselves from the destruction caused by wars in both ancient and medieval times, promise an incredible experience to history lovers.
Although there are dozens of underground cities in Cappadocia, two of them stand out. Therefore, I recommend adding Derinkuyu and Kaymakli underground cities to your things to do in Cappadocia list. You can be sure you won’t be disappointed.
History of Derinkuyu Underground City
According to research, the history of Derinkuyu Underground City goes back to the Assyrian Trade Colonies in ancient times. However, the fact that it became a functional underground city dates back to the ancient Greek period.
In his book Anabasis, Xenophon mentions the existence of people living underground. It even tells us that these people live underground with large families, with their pets, and have food stores. Recent research in the Derinkuyu underground city has confirmed that Xenophon’s narratives were correct.
A Shelter for the Early Christians
Christianity was banned in the Roman Empire for centuries and a policy of oppression and persecution was carried out against Christians. Derinkuyu was a shelter for the early Christians at the time when Christianity was forbidden.
We know from historical sources that the Christians in Antakya (Antioch) and Kayseri (Caesarea) came to Cappadocia and settled in the tunnels there. The Christians, who survived the persecution of the Roman soldiers, made this place a center of worship.
The underground city has maintained its importance during the Byzantine period. A significant portion of the remains that can be seen today were built during the Byzantine Empire era.
During the Arab-Byzantine wars between 780 and 1180, the Byzantines fleeing the Arab raids settled in the underground city and lived there temporarily. Historical records show that the tunnels were used by Greek-Orthodox Ottoman citizens until the population exchange (after World War I) in 1923.
What to See in Derinkuyu?
There are many places to see in Derinkuyu underground city as it goes down 8 floors. The city was built thanks to the geological formation of Cappadocia. The tuff soil formed by the lava flowing from the volcanoes was easily shaped by the human hand because of its soft structure.
In this way, the cellars or shelters created by people under their homes have grown into a giant underground city. The fact that there are more than 200 underground cities in Cappadocia proves the necessity of hiding at that time.
Unlike other underground cities of Cappadocia, Derinkuyu has a very large capacity and has many interconnected sections.
Derinkuyu had been enlarged by adding the necessary sections over time. The rooms, cellars and halls were connected to each other by corridors. In this way, an area of thousands of square meters was obtained.
At the entrance and the first floor of the city, there are winery, baptistery and missionary school. On the lower floors, there are cellars, kitchens and food stores. The ventilation space opened to ensure air circulation in the tunnels is located on the third floor.
Research shows that the fifth floor was the center of the city. The ventilation system is largely positioned on this floor. Buildings such as meeting rooms, cemeteries, churches and water wells are located on the seventh floor, the largest part of the city.
There are two underground cities that must be seen in Cappadocia. One of them is Derinkuyu and the other is Kaymakli. If you want to learn more about the other one, you can check out the Kaymakli Underground City blog post.
Derinkuyu Underground City Ticket Price
Derinkuyu Underground City ticket price is 60 Turkish Lira per person as of 2020. Tickets are free for children under 8 years old. The Museum Pass Cappadocia is valid at Derinkuyu Underground City.
Guided Tour Tickets for Derinkuyu
If you want to join a guided tour in Cappadocia, including the Derinkuyu Underground City, you can buy a ticket for the Cappadocia Green Tour. Although this tour is more expensive than standard museum tickets, it gives you the advantage of fast track. The history of the cave churches comes to life with the narration of your tour guide.
You can book this best-selling tour, which includes Goreme Valley, Ihlara Valley and Derinkuyu Underground city, by clicking this link. Guided tour tickets for Derinkuyu are sold under the guarantee of GetYourGuide, an international travel site. You can cancel the tour up to 24 hours and get a full refund.
Derinkuyu Underground City Opening Hours
Derinkuyu Underground City opening hours are between 08:00 in the morning to 19:00 in the evening between 1 April and 1 October. In the winter season, it closes at 17:00 in the evening.
Although Derinkuyu is open every day of the year, there may be changes in working hours due to events and renovations. So before you go, you can visit the official website of the underground city to see the latest status.
More About Cappadocia
Cappadocia is one of Turkey’s most important tourist destinations. If you are planning a trip to Cappadocia, you can review the comprehensive articles on this site. I would like to suggest you three articles about this region:
In order to decide where to stay in Cappadocia, the best cave hotels in Cappadocia blog post may be helpful. If you are preparing a travel itinerary in Cappadocia, the article on things to do in Cappadocia may be of use to you.
Finally, you can read the Cappadocia hot air balloon article, which provides a lot of information about the most popular activity of Cappadocia, the balloon tours. Joining a balloon flight in Cappadocia will give you the opportunity to take amazing photos of the volcanic formations.
Written by Serhat Engul