Cappadocia’s Underground Cities

The spectacular subterranean city of Kaymaklı is a must for the visitor to Cappadocia, This is located a short distance to the south of Nevşehir and was cut out of the volcanic tuff during the period from the 6th to the 10th centuries A.D. Dwellings such as this are known to have existed in this region as early as the 5th century B.C. The ancient writer Xenophon referred to them In his Anabasis. The underground city at Kaymaklı was made to accommodate several thousand people. Today the visitor is able to descend through seven floor levels of the city by means of a labyrinth of tunnels. Rooms, kitchens, wine cellars, storage areas and churches are all connected together by the intricate system of passageways. An immense chimney ventilates the whole affair, and today electric lighting and modern supporting braces allow the visitor to explore the city at leisure. The underground city was dug out to serve as a refuge for the Christians from the Arab invasions that occurred during the period from the 7th to the 9th centuries and also from the persecution during the Age of Iconoclasm. When attack looked Imminent the whole subterranean complex would be sealed off by rolling huge circular stones In front of the entrance tunnels.

Another underground city, not far from Kaymaklı, Is found at Derinkuyu, This one goes down to eight different living levels, with tunnels extending for several kilometers. This city could accommodate more dwellers than that at Kaymaklı, possibly aş many as fifty thousand. It is better laid out than the former one and was made at a later date. The temperature tends to be cool, even In the surfîmes so visitors are well advised to take sweaters along and to stay together while visiting the underground city. Throughout the year the temperature varies little. Heating was not much of a consideration, and cooking was done in communal kitchens to centralize the smoke from the fires.

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