Who Built This City? Underground Derinkuyu, and the Rock Churches of Göreme

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Colorful hot air balloons flying over Red valley in Cappadocia, Anatolia, Turkey (Svetlana Nikolaeva/ Adobe Stock)

Who Built This City? Underground Derinkuyu, and the Rock Churches of Göreme

Could the underground cities in Cappadocia, Turkey date back to 12,800 years ago? In 1963, so the story goes, a man living in Cappadocia excavated some large stones from his basement while renovating his house. Behind them he found an ancient tunnel that led to more tunnels, and then more tunnels, and more after that. When he reported his find and the experts descended, what they discovered was a complex underground city that once was home to some 20,000 people, their livestock, wine and oil presses, storage cellars, and chapels. A large 180-foot (54 meters) ventilation shaft insured fresh air.

Derinkuyu underground city in Cappadocia, Turkey (ninelutsk/Adobe Stock)

Derinkuyu underground city in Cappadocia, Turkey (ninelutsk/Adobe Stock)

There is evidence that suggests the city, long after its construction, might have later been used by Christians who built a religious school and a church. They named the complex after the city that had been built over it on the surface, Derinkuyu. After more exploration it was discovered that Derinkuyu is only one of several more such underground cities, spread out over Cappadocia in Turkey. Who built them? And why? And when? 


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