The Underground City

The site had been opened to the public since 1964

We visited the town of Kaymakli to see one of many underground cities in the Cappadocia area. First excavated by prehistoric man, these subterranean settlements were carved out of the soft volcanic rock over hundreds of years and provided temporary shelter for the townsfolk who were frequently subjected to enemy raids. To increase capacity new accommodation would be dug under the floors of existing rooms – the site at Kaymakli had seven levels and could accommodate five thousand souls. Homes on the surface were often connected to the underground city by hidden passages.

Ladders, tunnels and passages connected the underground rooms to the communal kitchen, a Christian church, wine cellars and storage rooms. Millstone doors could be rolled into place to block a passage when the enemy threatened to break in. There were water and ventilation shafts – and a place for the burial of the dead. The top floor accommodated the animals, the wealthy stayed on the upper floors and poorest lived at the lowest level – just like the Titanic, our guide joshed – and went on to make the same joke twice more! Our guide charged us £17 for a 45 minute tour, Tony gave him a handsome tip in the hope he might be able to afford a new toupé – the jet black one he wore didn’t come near to matching his greying hair.

Four levels were open to the public, three levels underneath had collapsed