Exploring the underground city of Kaymakli

This place is not meant to be visited by a claustrophobic like me, but after reading about it and how it was an ancient dwelling place for over 3,500 people I made up my mind that no matter what I am going in there and touring the place. If you guys are wondering what I am talking about, well it’s the famous Kaymakli underground city of Cappadocia.

We would never imagine staying in an underground city which spans six floors beneath the ground in the current era but it was not the case for Hittites, who were the ancient Anatolian people. This underground city was so immaculately planned that it was a self-sustained complex within itself.

There are numerous underground cities across the Central Anatolia region of Turkey, as it was easy for the local communities to carve holes through the pliable rocks found in this region called tufa which is a light, porous rock composed of volcanic ash.  It is believed that Kaymakli underground city was first built by the Hittites around 1200 BC and was subsequently used by the others over the years to provide refuge during the recurring treats from the invading armies. Out of the eight levels are only four are accessible to the visitors. While walking inside you have to mind your head as they are made up of low, narrow and sloping passages.

Always, mind your head!

We opted a guided tour of Kaymakli underground city and our guide, Mr. Umit Ocal picked us up from our hotel and drove us to the visiting center where the tickets for the tour has to be purchased. Mr. Ocal was a very delightful person who told us numerous tales and legends of the region and also their customs and practices during our drive. Even during the tour, he took us through the narrow, winding passages without getting lost. If it was not him we would defiantly be lost as it all looked same everywhere, one massive labyrinth of caves and passages.  It is quite astonishing to know that there are nearly hundred narrow tunnels out of which we walked through only four, I couldn’t stop imagining how massive this whole place would be.

Walking down from one floor to the other!
Narrow steps leading to the next floor below

As we walked through the first floor we passed through the stable, a small church and few other rooms. Apparently, stable was used on the top floor to provide heat and distract the enemies.

Narrow passages
Small church in the first floor

The second floor has, even more, rooms, and a bigger church and the third and fourth floors had storage and kitchen area along with the winery and all of these organized around a ventilation shaft that runs through all the floors. Heavy rolling stone doors can be seen which was used to conceal the entry way during the attacks. Also, the narrow and low roofs of the passages meant that the heavily armed invaders could not enter them.

Ventilation shaft running through each floor

Spa like area
Heavy, rolling stone door
Block of andesite used in cold copper prossessing

A large block of andesite which was used in cold copper processing

It was an amazing experience exploring an underground city and I couldn’t stop wondering how life would have been living in these caves. It is truly a maze of wonders of innovations and architecture. The whole tour would take up less than 60 minutes and I highly advise you to take a guided tour as not only you would be lost without one in there, but the guide will help you in understanding how this was and used in the bygone era.

Hope you guys enjoyed reading about this underground city of Kaymakli and please do leave a comment below on your thoughts about it!


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