HomeAsiaTurkeyThe Underground City of Derinkuyu in Turkey

The Underground City of Derinkuyu in Turkey

In Cappadocia there are quite a few underground cities. One of the largest and best-studied is Derinkuyu. It holds many mysteries that scientists have yet to solve. And visitors have the opportunity to see this amazing structure in person by walking through safe, well-researched sections with a guide.

Secrets of the Underground City of Derinkuyu

There are few exact recorded facts about the village. Much more remains in the realm of mystery and hypothesis.

Thus, it is confirmed by archaeological finds that:

  • Derinkuyu was formed by the Hittites 2,000 years BC;
  • the name translates as “deep well;
  • It had about 50,000 inhabitants;
  • one of the longest corridors is almost 10 km long;
  • there are 52 ventilation shafts;
  • In the lower halls it is easy to breathe in any weather, even with the central entrances closed;
  • The number of secret passages with access to the surface is approaching 600.

At the same time, the number of questions as we explore the underground city of Derinkuyu in Turkey only multiplies. Thus, the main purpose of the construction of this settlement is still not clear. There is also no answer as to how, in the absence of powerful construction equipment, people were able to build such an extensive network in the rock. And also why the entrances were easily closed by huge boulders when there was a probable danger from the inside, but it was impossible to move them from the outside. Of interest is the plaque of secondary minerals in some of the rooms. It is not yet possible to determine the exact cause of their appearance.


According to numerous hypotheses, the underground city of Derinkuyu was built to shelter from outside threats. This is how it was used by Christian families who hid there from Roman persecution, gangs of robbers and easy money seekers. The lighting and ventilation system, water drainage and collection, living rooms and rooms with an impressive area for common gatherings have been created for comfort and long life.

Scientists are divided on the lifestyle of the city’s inhabitants. There is a hypothesis that this was a permanent place of residence of people, and on the surface they went up only on urgent matters. It could equally likely have been a temporary shelter, where they were going in case of an external threat. Numerous passages to the surface also speak in favor of this. Residents could leave the winding corridors of their shelter at any time.

Some of the corridors ended in traps or dead ends.

Another fact indicates that the city was in fact an underground fortress. If necessary, the lower floors were completely cut off from the upper floors, each entrance blocked by a stone wheel, ensuring the safety of the inhabitants.

Planning of Derinkuyu

Thanks to a special system of ventilation shafts the temperature was kept constant at +13-15°C, it is easy to breathe, there is no smell of mold and mustiness, the walls and floor are dry. The upper tiers contained churches, rooms for teaching, and places for storing supplies. Scientists have determined that the city operated bakeries, and separate segments were set aside for living quarters, cowsheds and pens for livestock.

The Derinkuyu Plan

Further away were the wine cellars. Then came the armory, warehouses, and guard rooms. In a huge underground hall with a high vault, residents gathered and made decisions important to all through voting and discussion.

It was possible to create such a city because of the special properties of the rocks in Cappadocia. They consist of tufaceous rocks, easy to work, but quite resistant to the effects of time, because when exposed to air they acquire increased hardness and really “stone”.

History of Derinkuyu

Until the 8th century, the city lived a busy life, full of people and events. Later the need for such protection fell away, and the premises gradually became unnecessary and abandoned. People preferred the more comfortable living conditions on the surface. Over time, many of Derinkuyu’s secrets and its very location have been forgotten and almost lost.

It was reopened in 1963. Residents of nearby villages used the spacious dry rooms as warehouses until scientists became interested in them. As soon as the historical value of the find was established, it was given the status of a monument.


Based on the structure of Derinkuyu, scientists have hypothesized that it was planned for protection from air attacks and the possibility of prolonged life in autonomy from the outside world. The villagers have a legend about the battles angels and demons waged in the sky. They allegedly ceased after the construction of the city, where representatives of one of the parties took refuge.

They say that in the side branches of the corridors you can still see reflections of light from unknown sources.

Excursions to the underground city of Derinkuyu

Only 10% of the settlement has been studied, but even that is enough to feel the unique atmosphere, put yourself in the place of the first Christians and admire the skill of those who were able to build this amazing city. It goes down about eight levels, reaching a mark of 60 meters. What awaits the explorers next, no one knows yet. There are safe trails for tourists. All side branches and corridors are covered with grates.

The entrance to the underground city is in the village house in the village of the same name. It is worth considering that many of the crossings are not comfortable to move, as the height of the vault there below 170 cm.

Entrance to Derinkuyu

The museum complex offers fascinating tours. There are no children’s or discount tickets, so the price is considered one of the highest for a family visit. Nevertheless, the experience was well worth the 60 lire. A more economical option – purchase a museum card valid for 3 days and provides discounts on tours to 10 museums.

In addition, it is possible to book participation in the Green Tour of Cappadocia. His program includes trips to both underground cities, Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, visiting underground churches and other attractions.

The stories of the guide will make the trip unforgettable and allow you to learn many interesting facts, stories, legends and hypotheses about the architectural and historical monuments.

Tips for visiting

The underground city of Derinkuyu naturally maintains a fairly cool atmosphere, it is worth bringing warm clothes or a windbreaker. Also a feature are low arches in some rooms, provoking attacks of claustrophobia. In spite of the lighting system, there is semi-darkness inside. If you plan to look at any details, it is advisable to bring a flashlight, it is allowed.

It is very important to observe safety rules and if the passages are not marked in the route, you can not go there, because the city was built as a labyrinth. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised that the exit will be a little bit away from the entrance.

How to get to Derinkuy?

The most comfortable option is as part of a tour of the Ihlara Valley. In this case, the organization of the trip and planning time for the visit falls on the tour operator. But you can not dream of freedom of movement, everything will be strictly regulated.

Derinkuyu on the map of Turkey

If you drive on your own, you must go to the settlement of Derinkuyu and follow the signs. You can rent a car or call a cab.

Note that ticket sales close 30 minutes before the museum complex closes. The work schedule during the summer season is 08.00-19.00, in November the time is reduced by 2 hours.

Video review of Derinkuyu

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