Turkey's beautiful city of Cappadocia is famous for its enchanting countryside and mysterious "fairy chimney" micro mountains. These spire-like rock formations were probably created by ancient volcanic activity and, out of their soft stone, people carved out cave dwellings.
In recent times, the ones on the surface were converted into romantic hotels for tourists. However, in 1963 while one homeowner was remodeling his basement, he broke through his a wall into an unknown and tunnel system! To his surprise, he made a huge discovery of the underground city of Derinkuyu.
DERINKUYU: Functioning Underground City
Upon further exploration by professionals, they made these observations:
- capacity for 20,000 people
- 18 levels, sealable with 1,000-lb. stones
- 600 entrances to the surface
- food storage
- communal rooms
NEVSEHIR: Even Bigger Underground City
If you think Derinkuyu was impressive, wait until you hear this. In 2013, when a low-income house was demolished by a developer. Workers discovered tunnels leading under a Byzantine-era castle in the city of Nevsehir. Geophysicists from Nevsehir University used seismic tomography and geophysical resistivity technology to map and date the caves and artifacts.
They measured it to be 5 million square feet of rooms and passageways, making it the largest ancient underground city in the world.
It contained the same kinds of rooms as those in Derinkuyu but almost twice as many. Scientists estimate these rooms were carved out during the 7th and 8th centuries during the Byzantine period and Ottoman empire. They found grindstones, pottery, linseed presses to get oil for lighting lamps, and much more.
Despite these studies, some people still wonder about the ancient origins of these mysterious underground cities. What would prompt people to develop them? Was there some great catastrophe? And exactly how did they design and excavate these elaborate tunnel systems?
Researchers suggest Christians escaping religious persecution dug these and hid here, but this is debatable. Now, archaeologists keep finding new artifacts as they explore deeper. There are plans to reopen the underground churches as a tourist attraction and to share this discovery with the world. Sometimes the truth is hidden right beneath our feet.