Cappadocia is the land of underground cities. There are no less than 36 troglodyte cities in this region of Turkey and more than 250 listed underground refuges. For centuries they have housed populations trying to escape invaders. It is the volcanic tuffs, which are particularly easy to carve, that have enabled the digging of so many underground cities in Cappadocia. There is also a network of rivers with underground springs dense enough to provide food for the troglodyte refugees. These cities have an uncertain origin. It is believed that most of them date from the Hittite period, a few thousand years before our era, and that they were occupied by Christian populations persecuted by Arabs and Turks.
Derinkuyu is the most important of Cappadocia’s underground cities. It is spread over eleven levels and descends to a depth of 85 m. It was discovered in the 1960s by a native who was remodeling a house. The city has a complex network system of galleries that can be compartmentalized at any time. At the entrances there was a system that allowed the doors to be closed from the inside. In the city we find all the comforts to accommodate a human community and its livestock: kitchens, stables, churches, tombs, aqueducts and ventilation shafts. Only half of the underground city would be accessible to the public and it is assumed that there are galleries connecting Derinkuyu to other nearby troglodyte villages. The other great underground city of Cappadocia is Kaymakli. It is more extensive than its sister Derinkuyu but less deep. It extends over eight levels of which only four are accessible to the public.
An even more important city would have been discovered under the old Byzantine castle of the city of Nevşehir by a site team. This would not only be larger than Kaymakli or Derinkuyu but also, in a certain way, older. The first estimates put its construction back to more than 5000 years before our era. A 7 km tunnel has been updated. The researchers believe that these underground galleries were probably used to transport goods in times of trouble. Who knows what the bowels of mysterious Cappadocia still hide from us?