Back in 1963, a passageway was discovered beneath the home of a man in the Turkish city of Derinkuyu. At first, it appeared to be nothing more than an ancient well. It was a cool discovery, but hardly groundbreaking. But the passage just kept going, and going, and going…
Nestled in Turkey’s historical Cappadocia region lies the city of Derinkuyu.
Back in 1963, a passage was uncovered beneath home of one man.
At first, they thought it might just be a crypt of some sort. But it turned out to be so much more.
The passage didn’t just lead to one room. It led to an entire underground city.
The network of chambers and tunnels extends nearly 200 feet into the earth.
It’s believed to have held up to 20,000 people at one point, with all their belongings and livestock.
Excavators found amenities such as chapels, storage rooms, and even wine and oil presses.
There’s even a vaulted room that archaeologists believe was once a school.
Not a whole lot is known about the underground city, but there are many theories as to its origins.
One theory posits that the city was built by the Phrygians between the 7th and 8th centuries.
But the presence of artifacts from many different peoples across time — from Zoroastrians to Christians — makes it very difficult to pin down the city’s exact origins.
It is agreed, however, that the city was most likely used to hide great numbers of civilians during times of war.
A five-mile tunnel was discovered to connect Derinkuyu to another underground city, Kaymakli, though that one isn’t nearly as extensive.
Both cities are carved into rare geological formations, namely large deposits of soft volcanic rock that made excavation easier.
Sections of the city were sealed off with these large stone doors, which were rolled into place to block the tunnels.
Passages like this one had “ladders” for people to get around.
The tunnels were opened to tourists in 1969, and can still be visited today.
It seems like it would be pretty easy to get lost down here.
Learn more about the underground city and its mysterious origins in this short documentary!