Cappadocia Underground Cities | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Cappadocia Underground Cities

Kaymakli, Central Anatolia Region, Turkey

Lucy Davidson

20 May 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Cappadocia Underground Cities

The Cappadocia Underground Cities, found mostly in the Nevsehir region in central Turkey, are a series of magnificent subterranean cities built by the Troglodytes or ‘cave goers’. Of the almost forty known Cappadocia underground cities, some in Nevshir are open to the public, including Kaymaklı, Derinkuyu, Özkonak, Mazi and Ürgüp.

History of Cappadocia Underground Cities

The Cappadocia underground cities were built by early Christians during the Byzantine era who were persecuted for their faith. The city’s inhabitants used the network of caves to protect themselves from Muslim-Arabs during the Arab-Byzantine Wars between 780 and 1180.

It is believed that the underground cities were initially built by the Phrygians during the 8th and 7th centuries BC. Later, during the Roman era and the replacement of the Phrygian language with Greek, the then Christian inhabitants continued work on the underground cities by adding their own cultural and religious necessities such as chapels and Greek inscriptions.

The most incredible aspects of the Cappadocia underground cities are their sheer scale and complexity. Some of these cities delve eight levels underground, with comprehensive living quarters and facilities for making grape juice, cooking, drainage and plumbing and even stables for horses.

Of course, these underground cities were also vital forts, protecting their citizens, and the Cappadocia made provisions for this, including sturdy doors and even holes in the ceilings through which to pour hot oil over any intruders.

Even during the 20th century, the caves allowed for people to protect themselves from persecution administered during the Ottoman Empire. It was not until 1923, after the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, that the underground cities were completely abandoned and forgotten about.

In 1963, a resident discovered a strange room in a wall inside his house, thus leading to the huge underground city being rediscovered.

Cappadocia Underground Cities Today

The most dramatic and interesting underground cities now open to visitors are the ones south of Nevşehir at Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu, 12 miles and 19 miles south of Nevşehir respectively.

It is also possible to stay in a Cappadocia cave hotel.

Visiting the Cappadocia underground cities is an exciting, authentic and fascinating journey. The Cappadocia underground cities have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Turkey.

Getting to Cappadocia Underground Cities

A popular underground site to visit is Nevşehir at Kaymaklı. From the centre of Cappadocia, the site is reachable in around 45 minutes via the Yeşilhisar Yolu and Derinkuyu Yeşilhisar Yolu roads. Derinkuyu is also reachable in the same amount of time via the same roads.


Featured In

Turkey Historic Sites

Discover the best Historic Sites in Turkey, from Hagia Sophia to the Helles Memorial and more, includes interactive map of the top Turkish cultural locations and monuments.

Top 10 Turkey

Your comprehensive guide to the Top Ten tourist attractions in Turkey. Includes info on each Turkish visitor attraction, an interactive map, directions and entry details.

Viking Sites

A list of the best Viking sites, museums and ruins to visit, from the fortress at Trelleborg to Jelling archaeological site and more, includes an interactive map of Viking places to visit.

Ancient Cities

Discover a comprehensive list of the most stunning ancient cities in the world, from Pompeii to Calixtlahuaca and more, includes an interactive ancient city map.