Travels, Turkey

Exploring the underground city of Kaymakli

Kaymakli Cappadocia

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.

Related post: Things to do in Cappadocia

Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia
Always, mind your head!

Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia

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 a hundred narrow tunnels out of which we walked through only four, I couldn’t stop imagining how massive this whole place would be.

Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia
Walking down from one floor to the other!
Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia
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.

Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia
Narrow passages
Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia
A small church on 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 entryway during the attacks. Also, the narrow and low roofs of the passages meant that the heavily armed invaders could not enter them.

Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia
Ventilation shaft running through each floor

Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia

Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia
Spa-like area
Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia
Winery
Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia
Heavy, rolling stone door
Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia
Block of andesite used in cold copper processing

Underground city of Kaymakli, CappadociaUnderground city of Kaymakli, CappadociaUnderground city of Kaymakli, CappadociaUnderground city of Kaymakli, CappadociaUnderground city of Kaymakli, CappadociaUnderground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia

Underground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia
A large block of andesite which was used in cold copper processing

Underground city of Kaymakli, CappadociaUnderground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia

Underground city of Kaymakli, CappadociaUnderground city of Kaymakli, Cappadocia

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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54 thoughts on “Exploring the underground city of Kaymakli

  1. This is fascinating! I had heard of the city because of the amazing and beautiful balloon festivals but didnt realise there was so much underground. I would love to visit but also think I would be claustrophobic! Well done for getting such good photos, it must be hard underground!

    1. Thank you Hannah! Yeah, Cappadocia is filled with very exciting things to do and explore. They had used very good lighting inside these caves which helped me in getting such good pictures 🙂

  2. This place looks very interesting and mysterious. I agree that one should go with a guide otherwise there are chances of getting lost. I am also claustrophobic 🙂

  3. I’m claustrophobic too! Many a times, esp like climbing those narrow towers with spiral staircases, my mind keeps thinking what if the tower falls now!!! Its freaky! But then, the love to explore it all, somehow throws the fear out of the mind… So I can totally understand how you would have felt!
    Thanks for the tip. If its such a labyrinth of tunnels, when I visit, I might as well take a guided tour.
    This reminds me of the Chislehurst caves in London…

    1. Oh, we havent been to Chislehurst, heard alot about it thou! Thank you for mentioning about it, will visit it next time we are in London 🙂

  4. This is so thrilling. This archaeological description of yours is worth reading. I was feeling like visiting the place in real. And I tell you while I was reading it, my mind started imagining those movies like Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade…

  5. We visited this cave when we were in Turkey in 2006. Our guide kept saying “in battle times” as the date. 😉 It really is amazing that so many people and animals lived there. And that it is still around for tourists to walk through. Loved your photos and would love to visit again.

  6. This is such an amazing place to visit! I can only imagine how life must have been living in these underground caves in Kaymakli. I like how there was a spa too, very much my kind of place!

    1. This place looks even more amamzing when you walk throught their tunnels and stand inside the tiny rooms and imagine the life of the people who dwelled there!

  7. An underground city is so cool! As much as I love visiting unique attractions, seeing your photos incite a sense of claustrophobia! I don’t think I’d last a minute n these tiny corridors! LOL

  8. Your visit to this Turkish underground city reminds me of the time I visited the tombs in Egypt. I agree that people who have claustrophobia shouldn’t do this, especially with the low ceilings and tiny apertures, doors, and windows. Isn’t it amazing how other people live in the world?

  9. wow this is really amazing, I have visited a cave when I was in India and found it a bit scary lol . But back then I was in High School but now I guess I can visit such caves . Thanks for sharing

  10. This is some place which I would love to explore, and thank god am not a claustophobic kind of person .Even though now these caves look normal , but its the history behind which fascinates me the most.

    1. Thats true! With all the modern amenities and lighthing the cave looks bit less spooky, imgine the days when it was lit with just candles!

  11. I love visiting underground cities, I visited the city in Edinburgh. It’s amazing how people could live underground in these cramped conditions. The Kaymakli underground city looks very well kept – great photos!

  12. I like hearing about these ancient underground cities around the world, they’re so interesting. I’d really like to visit here one day and explore it for myself!

  13. You have brought back memories of my trip to this place! In fact, I think I have pictures almost in the exact same places as you, haha! It was so chilly underground, I remember. I loved the experience!

  14. This is awesome!! I am a little claustrophobic but I still think this would be a great experience!! If you go to the United States check out Mammoth Cave National Park, I think they are the longest underground tunnels in the world!

  15. There is something about underground cities and places that I love, there is just so much mystery and to think how people would live there in the past. This looks like a place I really need to explore, the only thing, was it extremely hot in there?

  16. This is definitely something I’d love to do – I am not claustrophobic in the slightest. I’ve actually done similar things in Colombia and in Cyprus, so would be well up for this! x

  17. As you said perfectly, I can only imagine to myself how people could manage to live underground in such cramped style. There is no way that a heavily armored invader could walk through the narrow passage with bulky armor. This was a pretty ingenious plan. I would really enjoy taking a guided tour through there.

  18. Didn’t that underground city thing put you into wonder and gave you goosebumps? You might be a daring one who chose to gain experience by this underground tour of the city Kaymakli.

  19. This is awesome!! I am a little claustrophobic but I still think this would be a great experience!! If you go to the United States check out Mammoth Cave National Park, I think they are the longest underground tunnels in the world!

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