When we think about the existence of underground cities, we would often think about fictional realms. But did you know there were real underground cities that housed more than 20,000 people?
Derinkuyu was an underground city that existed as early as the 15th BC. After a Turkish man remodeled his house, the old city was rediscovered in Turkey. A secret room leading to the complex was revealed when he knocked down a wall.
The Underground City of Derinkuyu
In 1963, one man in the Turkish province of Nevşehir decided to renovate his home. When he knocked down a wall of his house, he discovered a strange chamber behind it. Upon further investigation, he soon realized that it was a secret passageway to an entire city below the ground.
The man inadvertently discovered the underground city of Derinkuyu. Archeologists hypothesized that the Hittites first constructed the underground settlement in the 15th century. In contrast, others argue that the Phrygians, the Hittites’ enemies, built the city.
The city is not the largest, nor the oldest underground settlement discovered but what makes it stand out is that it is the deepest one ever found. Derinkuyu extends as deep as 250 meters and has eighteen levels. (Source: The Vintage News)
The complex structure is thought to have the capacity to house around 20,000 people with its chambers as it was built as a fortress against invading forces common at its inception. The sections are riddled with thousands of ventilation shafts and waterways that provide fresh air and water to each level of the settlement.
The Derinkuyu had stables, storage, lodging, churches, and wineries. The settlers maximized the usage of the space. Voids and carvings on its rock walls served either as extra storage or as tombs. It was protected by massive stone wheels that served as doors that could only be activated from the inside, essentially turning it into another wall. (Source: Atlas Obscura)
Over 600 entrances to Derinkuyu have been found in private residences and courtyards spread across the city. Archeologists also discovered escape routes on each level and an almost five-mile-long passageway connecting Derinkuyu to the most extensive underground settlement Kaymakli. (Source: The Vintage News)
Kaymakli Underground City
The Cappadocia region of Turkey is home to numerous underground settlements dating as far back as 2,000 BC, and one of these settlements is the Kaymakli. The Kaymakli underground city is the largest in the region in its time, despite it having only eight floors compared to the deeper Derinkuyu that has eighteen levels. (Source: Atlas Obscura)
And unlike its neighbor, Kaymakli is only 60 meters deep, with narrower, lower, and more steeply inclined tunnels. It was awarded the Unesco World Heritage status in 1985 and is open to tourists who would want to visit.
Furthermore, some parts of the Kaymakli are still used today. Some families who discovered parts of the underground city use it as storage and even as an extended living space to their above-ground houses. (Source: The Culture Trip)