Sep 292016

September 29, 2016

Caves of CappadociaDerinkuyu (Deep Well) is just one of many, many underground cities lying underneath Cappadocia. In fact they believe there are at least 36 underground cities in the area, only a few have been excavated.  It is really difficult to describe how claustrophobic the spaces are, how one has to stoop over for long distances to go through the tunnels, and more importantly how in the world anyone actually lived their entire lives like this.  You must also keep this in mind when looking at the pictures, they just can not capture what you are actually experiencing.

Underground Caves of CappadociaThe caves may have initially been built by the Phrygians, in the 8th–7th centuries B.C.. When the Phrygian language died out in Roman times, replaced with its close relative, the Greek language, the inhabitants, now Christian, expanded their underground caverns adding the chapels and Greek inscriptions.

The city at Derinkuyu was fully formed in the Byzantine era, when it was heavily used as protection from Muslim Arabs during the Arab–Byzantine wars (780-1180).

Underground caves of CappadociaSome artifacts discovered in these underground settlements belong to the Middle Byzantine Period, between the 5th and the 10th centuries A.D.

These cities continued to be used by the Christian natives as protection from the Mongolian incursions of Timur in the 14th century.

After the region fell to the Ottomans, the cities were used as refuges from the Turkish Muslim rulers. As late as the 20th century the locals, called Cappadocian Greeks, were still using the underground cities to escape periodic waves of Ottoman persecution.

Underground Caves of CappadociaWhen the Christian inhabitants of the region were expelled in 1923 in the population exchange between Greece and Turkey the tunnels were abandoned

Derinkuyu was rediscovered by a local person digging in their backyard in 1963, they were opened to visitors in 1969 and about half of the underground city is currently accessible to tourists.

Underground Caves of CappadociaIt is thought that at least 20,000 people lived in Derinkuyu. It is at least eight levels deep, or about 200 feet. It is thought that there was a tunnel linking Derinkuyu to Kaymakli, which is over 6 miles away.

The area that visitors can see includes a stable, a wine press area, a large open area.  As you descend you come upon living quarters, what the state as a kitchen and a church.

Underground Caves of CappadociaThe reason we chose this particular cave is that I was fascinated with the wheels that roll to block off tunnels in times of siege.