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The Land of Underground Cities

Updated on May 14, 2015

A patch of land from another world

In the heart of modern Turkey lies Cappadocia, a patch of land that seems detached from another world, with strange geological formations similar to the moon surface, with labyrinths, fortresses and cities built underground. The underground cities of Cappadocia are so amazing, that are considered to be the eighth wonder of the world.

Cappadocia region includes Aksaray, Nevsehir, Nigde, Kayseri and Kirsehir provinces and is generally a cooler area than the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts.

Due to the uniqueness of its relief, cultural data and historical context, the area has been included in UNESCO World Heritage since 1985.


Underground cities

At mid-century VI BC, Medes Empire falls under Persian domination. From this period seems to date the etymology of the name Cappadocia, which in Persian, Katpatuka means "Land of Beautiful Horses".

Archaeological research has proved that Cappadocia region was inhabited about 10,000 years ago and was considered one of the cradles of mankind.

Over 200 cities have been discovered intact beneath Cappadocia, but researchers are convinced that there are still many waiting to be discovered.

There are numerous underground cities at Kaymakli, Derinkuyu Urgup or Avanos and under other villages.

Those cities are now museums and can be visited on fixed routes, because the tunnels are filled with soil from erosion and subsidence produced throughout the ages. Even the tunnels are much deeper, reaching 280 m in depth, on three levels, most of them can be visited down to only 30 m depth.

It is interesting how the corridors and stairs were designed to provide the link between levels. Each level is an independent unit, where can be found the kitchens, dining rooms, rooms for storing food, bedrooms and even cemeteries and prisons. The ventilation of the entire space was made by a central shaft and the water was captured by the inner wells.

Always, domestic animals were kept in the first rooms to avoid long journeys through very narrow tunnels and also to prevent penetration of odors in the rooms where people lived.

Here were built the first monasteries in the world, and the number of places of worship grew over time to more than 200 churches.

Ancient church carved into stone
Ancient church carved into stone

An area full of mystery even today

Despite the tourist affluence, the region has succeeded to retain an aura of mystery, even for the archaeologists and the modern historians, not mentioning the modern reports which speak about strange events, including magnetic fields which are supposed to have curative properties, or reporting unidentified flying objects.

There is a mystery regarding how the ancient people worked, what tools they used, the time needed to achieve them, how they carried tons of material to the surface without modern means of excavation and transport.

Who built the misterious cities? For what purpose did they live underground? And when were built the underground settlements in Cappadocia?

Stone doors in the form of wheels

Historians believe that Phrygians and Hittites, the populations who lived there in the first millennium BC, built some of the underground cities. According to many archaeologists, those settlements were intended to serve as underground shelter against invasion of enemies.

In the underground city there is an unusual security system made of thousand of stone doors in the form of wheels that could be moved only by one person and only ftom one part, only from the inside. The stones have diameters between one and two meters and can be rolled only from inside, so the invaders can not penetrate. Therefore they were hiding from something or someone.

Because the stone can not be carbon dated, it is very difficult to determine the age of those underground homes. Remain the legemds and the old religious tradition.

Stone door
Stone door

Cappadocia as part of the Zoroastrian empire

It is known that Cappadocia was part of the Zoroastrian empire, one of the oldest religious tradition on earth. Could thosee homes be built underground by followers to the indication of their religious leader, Ahura Mazda, to serve as shelters in an ice age heavy winter? Last ice age ended 10,000 years ago. Therefore, according to the legend, underground cities of Cappadocia might be much older than was previously thought.

In ancient sacred texts, Ahura Mazda flew through the sky in a divine chariot and was waging war on Angra Mainyu, his eternal enemy, the god of darkness, the personification of evil, bringer of death and disease. Angra Mainyu introduced the frost in winter, heat in summer, the entire range of diseases and other ills.

A symbol of Zoroastrianism
A symbol of Zoroastrianism

Shelters in the last ice age...

Were the caves built by people using extraterrestrial machines to serve as shelter in the last ice age and to avoid becoming victims of frost and cold weather coming from the sky? Could be Ahura Mazda one of those "gods" aliens of antiquity that gave people the knowledge and technology to protect them from threats from outside and help them to survive?

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The Land of Underground Cities


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    • profile image

      rimdi 5 years ago

      thery useful :-D

    • Adventure Lover profile image

      Adventure Lover 6 years ago

      Wow! I'm adding this place to my list.

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 6 years ago

      Very nice travel article. I can travel from my living room sofa. Voted up, useful, interesting and AWESOME for the copy and layout. Hey! Can you please write your profile in English? I'm curious about your background as a writer.