Ancient underground city of Derinkuyu
Long ago, in the region surrounding Nevsehir and Kayseri, in central Turkey, an ancient people built, or rather dug, over 200 underground cities. The deepest of these, under the present day town of Derinkuyu, delves over 250 feet (76 meters) below the Earth’s surface, and boasts numerous tunnels, halls, meeting rooms, wells and passages.
Because the city was carved from existing caves and underground structures that had first formed naturally, there is no way to discern, with traditional archaeological methods of dating, when exactly Derinkuyu was built. As such, and with ties to the Hittites, Phrygians and Persians, Derinkuyu presents a fascinating riddle for ancient mystery enthusiasts.
The underground city at Derinkuyu has 18 stories that descend far into the Earth. Sophisticated shafts, some as long as 180 feet (55 meters), provide ventilation to the complex’s multitude of residences, communal rooms, tunnels, wine cellars, oil presses, stables and chapels.
The city also has numerous wells to provide fresh water. So many, that most scholars agree that Derinkuyu could have easily supported as many as 20,000 people.
It is widely presumed that the city was part of a larger complex; in support of this, many point to a commonly-believed rumor that a tunnel extends from Derinkuyu to its sister underground city, Kaymakli, some three miles away. Conventional wisdom holds that these cities were built for the same reasons other people built citadels and castles – to protect the populace during invasion. Some of the strongest evidence to support this theory includes the self-contained fresh water supply, as well as the enormous stone, circular doors, weighing up to 1,000 pounds (454 kilos), that could seal off passageways from invaders.