Derinkuyu Archaeological Site

Derinkuyu is ancient underground city situated 30 km (18.6 mi) South of Nevşehir, Nevşehir Province in Turkey. It is the largest and most extensive underground structure in Cappadocia and all of the country. It reached a depth of 85 meters with 18 levels of rooms and passageways. However only 8 stories are well explored and open to the public.


Location: 30 km (18.6 mi) South of Nevşehir, Nevşehir Province Map

Open: May- Oct: 9am- 7pm daily

Nov- Apr: 9am- 5pm daily


Description of Archaeological Site


This subterranean settlement could house over 20,000 residents with their animals. Many entrances to the city are well hidden and barely visible above ground. In a time of turmoil or enemy attacks local peasants could hide under ground within few minutes. Each floor was sealed off separately by large round boulders that served as doors. Derinkuyu was a real city with all the amenities. People could live, pray and study here for an extended period of time. An amount of storage space for food and hidden water sources made the city a perfect hiding place. Several shafts provided the city with fresh air and plenty of ventilation. The site was open to tourists in 1965.

History of Derinkuyu

Derinkuyu subterranean city is cut into volcanic rock that is commonly found in the region of Cappadocia of Turkey. It was constructed over a course of several centuries starting from the 8th century BC and Phrygians. Subsequent generations enlarged the city and many several artificial caves were united into a single system. Locals claim that you could find a tunnel that links Derinkuyu with other underground systems of Cappadocia like Tatlarin, Kaymakli, Avanos and many others, but nor evidence were ever found for these rumors.

Over time the region was conquered by many nations and empires. Median Empire, Hittites, Persians, Greeks, Romans and many others all have left mark on the site. People who lived here were occasionally were called troglodytes (Τρωγλοδύται). In Greek this term literally means "cave goers" or "cave dwellers". During Byzantine period this city got its own small church. Constant Turkish raids forced peasants to hide here regularly. After conquest of the Ottoman Empire the city was largely abandoned. Locals did use this site for storage and hide from the heat, but it did not reach its former importance.

Notice the picture on the bottom left. The round stone on left served as a door in emergency. It could be rolled to block the narrow passage. It is close to impossible to open the door from outside. The hole in the middle could be used by the defenders to keep an eye on the possible invaders. There are several doors that guard the entrance to each floor separately.