There are many things to do in Cappadocia, one of the most unique places in the world. Among them, it is quite interesting to fly with a hot air balloon, trekking in the valleys and visit the churches carved into the rocks. However, if there is anything more interesting in Cappadocia than these activities, it is to visit ancient underground cities. Kaymakli Underground City stands out among the hidden treasures of Cappadocia.
The living spaces created by people under their houses to protect them from wars have evolved into cities over the centuries. Those living in the rooms connected to each other through tunnels needed common things. Therefore, wine cellars, churches and meeting rooms were built in underground cities. Even the ventilation system has been added to ensure long-term accommodation.
In this article, I will introduce you to Kaymakli Underground City, one of the two most visited underground cities in Cappadocia. If you’re curious about the other one, you can find details about it in the Derinkuyu Underground City article.
History of Kaymakli Underground City
Even though the history of Kaymakli Underground City goes back to antiquity, the current heritage is from the early Christian period. Therefore, it is useful to briefly mention the importance of Cappadocia in early Christianity.
Jesus’ death dates back to the time of Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. After this date, Christianity was spread by the disciples of Jesus to the most important cities of the world. Some of these cities were Alexandria, Antioch, Ephesus and Rome. However, this rapid spread of a new faith did not please the Roman emperors. Because the rise of Christianity meant the disruption of the established order.
For centuries, the Roman authorities pursued a policy of oppression against Christianity. There was no peace for Christians in the Roman Empire, which ruled most of the known world. Christians living in Antakya (Antioch) and Kayseri (Caesarea), the ancient cities of the past, fled to Cappadocia. They expanded the underground cities and began to live here.
We see the traces of this period in two of the most important underground cities of Cappadocia such as Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. The hiding of Christians from the persecution of the Roman governors lasted for centuries and finally ended in 313. Emperor Constantine, who reigned in the 300s, brought freedom of belief to Christians with the Edict of Milan.
However, the Cappadocian Christians continued to live here. Cappadocia became one of the religious centers of Eastern Christianity in late Roman and Byzantine periods. The rock churches and monasteries that we see today at the Goreme Open Air Museum are also from that period.
The Byzantines, who escaped from the raids organized by the Arabs in Anatolia, withdrew to the underground cities and lived there. During the Seljuk and Ottoman empires in Anatolia, it was again a shelter during the wars. Historical records show that the tunnels were used by the Greek citizens of the Ottoman Empire until the end of the First World War.
What to See in Kaymakli
The most important places to see in Kaymakli are winery, baptistery and missionary school. When you go downstairs, you can see the food stores. The holes in the tunnels for air circulation are still visible. In addition, buildings such as meeting rooms, cemeteries, churches and wells prove that there was a complex city life here.
The main periods of life in Kaymakli Underground City were the early Christian period and the middle Byzantine period. Early Christians descended into the underground city to escape Roman persecution. The Byzantines, on the other hand, took refuge here to protect themselves from the Byzantine-Arab wars that lasted for many years.
The fact that there are remnants of such a complex Christian life in Kaymakli is due to the fact that the Christians of the Byzantine period designed the underground city accordingly in order to maintain their customs during the war.
The above map shows the living areas, rooms and tunnels. The underground cities of Cappadocia were designed for temporary accommodation. However, sometimes because of the wars that lasted for months, they had to live here for a long time. This caused the underground cities to expand deeper.
Kaymakli Underground City Ticket Price 2021
Kaymakli Underground City ticket price is 60 Turkish Lira per person as of 2021. Tickets are free for children under 8 years old. The Museum Pass Cappadocia is valid at Kaymakli Underground City.
Guided Tour Tickets for Kaymakli
You can buy guided tour tickets to take advantage of fast track in Cappadocia museums. For example, on the best-selling full-day tour, you can visit the Kaymakli Underground City along with the Goreme Open Air Museum, Uchisar Castle, Devrent Valley and Monks Valley.
You can book this best-selling tour by clicking this link. These small group tour tickets 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.
Kaymakli Underground City Opening Hours 2021
Kaymakli 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 Kaymakli 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