Welcome to Derinkuyu — the underground city.
Picture this. It’s 1963, and you’re on a construction crew renovating your home. You bring your sledgehammer down on a soft stone wall, and it all crumbles away, revealing a large, snaking passageway so long that you can’t see where it ends. This is the true story of how the undercity at Derinkuyu was re-discovered. While those workers knew they’d found something special, they couldn’t know just how massive their discovery had been.
This ancient 18-story underground city used to house up to 20.000 people, and it’s one of the largest underground cities in the world. Located in Cappadocia, Turkey, this is one of over 200 subterranean cities that were carved into the volcanic rock. What make it even more impressive it’s the city’s depth of over 250 feet (76 meters), as well as the demands of a population living underground.
As impossible as it sounds people used ot live there with all the necessities like fresh water, stables, places of worship, even some luxuries like wineries and oil presses.
Ancient volcanic eruptions allowed Derinkuyu to exist. Several million years ago, layers upon layers of ash, aka tuff, built up and eventually turned into a stable rock that’s also capable of being carved. Long after the eruptions, Cappadocia inhabitants realized that they could carve their dwellings into the rock and underground. It is believed that the city was started by Phrygians, an Indo-European people, in the 8th to 7th centuries BCE.
After the population became Christian in Roman times, they began to include chapels in their city, but also it is thought that Christian population used this underground city to escape persecution by the Romans.
Though not ideal for the claustrophobic people, these ancient cultures tried to make life as safe and comfortable as possible in the underground city. There were doors weighing up to 1,000 pounds to ensure that invaders could not gain entry. There were more than 50 ventilation shafts to bring in fresh air, with air ducts to distribute it all. The waste was all stored in pots and then transported aboveground whenever possible.
Although the idea of an underground city might seem terrifying, this one in particular was equipped with almost all necessities to make life as easy as possible. There were areas for livestock and numerous wells to provide drinking water. Communal rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, schools, animal stables, wine cellars, and oil presses were all found beneath the surface of the Earth.
Illustration via reddit
Derinkuyu it’s opened to the public since 1965, along with Kaymakli, and they’re a well know tourist attraction in the region. Only 8 out of 18 levels are accessible , that’s still an incredible opportunity to see man’s ability to adapt to their circumstances.