The Mind-blowing Kaymakli Underground City in Cappadocia
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Kaymakli Underground City

An ancient subterranean hideout

Best Known for
Maze of tunnels

Built
4th century BCE

Civilization
Byzantine

Suggested Duration
1 hr

For centuries, the soft volcanic rock of Cappadocia has made it possible for a man to carve out structures into the terrain. From churches to houses, this unique landscape is dotted with some of the most outstanding architecture; but none inspires as much awe as underground cities.

There are 36 of these spread across Cappadocia, and the one at Kaymakli is one of the most mind-blowing.

The city has a depth of about 40 meters and is believed to have eight floors. Nonetheless, only four of these floors have been uncovered and made accessible to the public.

And while the underground city at Derinkuyu is the deepest, this one is the widest and could hold up to 6000 people at capacity.

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For centuries, the soft volcanic rock of Cappadocia has made it possible for a man to carve out structures into the terrain. From churches to houses, this unique landscape is dotted with some of the most outstanding architecture; but none inspires as much awe as underground cities.

There are 36 of these spread across Cappadocia, and the one at Kaymakli is one of the most mind-blowing.

The city has a depth of about 40 meters and is believed to have eight floors. Nonetheless, only four of these floors have been uncovered and made accessible to the public.

And while the underground city at Derinkuyu is the deepest, this one is the widest and could hold up to 6000 people at capacity.

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Planning a trip to Cappadocia? Answer this trip planner and get your FREE quotation within 24 hours.

The History

Layers

Ventilation

Key Features

Tips & Etiquette

Like with other underground cities, Kaymakli’s actual construction period is unknown; some attribute its construction to the Hittites while others to the Phrygians. It was established under the citadel or sanctuary of Kaymakli (Greek: Enegup) and, for centuries, has served as a refuge for Cappadocian residents.

In the 4th century, Christians in the Roman empire were facing religious persecution from the Romans. During their flight, the Christians found a haven in the region of Cappadocia. Here they built cave houses, churches, and tunnels in the soft volcanic rock of the area. They also expanded the existing underground city at Kaymakli to include churches, graveyards, stables, and schools.

The Christians used the city until the 14th century, and when the region fell to the Seljuk Turks, residents once again escaped to the safety of their underground cities. There are even records that the town was used until the early 20th century by the Cappadocian Greeks. It was finally abandoned around the 1940s and opened to the public in 1964.

Out of the eight levels that the city is thought to have, only four have been uncovered. Nonetheless, they are still enough to give you a solid idea of how life in the underground city went on.

First Floor

The first level is home to a stable. The stable is relatively small in size, and thus, it is speculated that there could be other stables in the lower levels yet to be opened. There is a millstone door to the left of the stable that opens up to a church. There are also rooms on the right. These rooms are believed to have served as living spaces for wealthy families.

Second Floor

This floor is home to a church with a nave and two apses. There is a baptismal font in front of the apses and seating platforms on the sides. The church also has names next to the church, which are the same names in the graveyard contained on the same floor. There are also a few living spaces in the area.

Third Floor

Of all the uncovered levels, the third floor is arguably the most important one. It served as the storage section for food and had places for wine and oil presses and communal kitchens. There is also an intriguing block of andesite with relief textures.

Fourth Floor

The fourth level is also home to a large number of storage rooms. In this section, there is a private kitchen, flour furnaces, and earthenware areas. This floor is an indication of a certain level of economic stability in the region.

Underground cities had to overcome any challenges, but the greatest one was ventilation. Therefore, these towns’ architects had to develop ingenious ways to ensure inhabitants had a constant clean air supply. They constructed ventilation shafts that ran all the way to the lowest levels. Today, these shafts are some of the most exciting features of any underground city, and Kaymakli is no different.

  • A Cambridge linguist recorded that in 1909, a large fraction of the population at Axo took refuge in Kaymakli underground city after receiving news about the massacre at Adana.
  • The city was believed to be connected to Derinkuyu by a tunnel(s) about 9 miles long. But, this still remains a mystery.
  • Some artifacts were discovered in the chambers of the town. These artifacts date back to the Byzantine period between the 5th and 10th centuries.
  • The underground city has nearly one hundred tunnels that are still in use today as storage areas, stables, and cellars.
  • The structure of the living quarters in the city was arranged according to class; the wealthier families got higher levels while the humblest ones got the lower levels.
  • Food was only cooked once a certain while for the entire population. The idea was to prevent the smoke from going out of ventilations that would mark their spots to the enemy.
  • The best time to explore the city is in the morning, right after opening, or in the evening, two hours before closing. This will help you avoid the crowds created by large tour groups. Lunchtime is also an excellent time to visit.
  • Set aside at least 2 hours to explore the city as it is large, and a few minutes will not be enough to enjoy all the exciting sights in the city.
  • Hire a guide because to really enjoy the city, you must be accompanied by someone familiar with the place to help you paint a vivid picture of how life went on in the city.
  • If you are claustrophobic or have a chronic disease, a tour to the city may not be a great idea. Some passageways are too narrow and are thus likely to make the whole experience hard for you.

Visiting Kaymakli Underground City

Getting to Kaymakli underground city is an easy 30-minute drive from Goreme town. It is also quite scenic, so don’t shy away from taking a slow drive while taking in the stunning surroundings outside your window.

Exploring the massive underground town makes for the most exciting experience. The city gives you an exclusive sneak peek into the lives of Cappadocian Christians in the dark ages. Walking through the many tunnels and chambers in Kaymakli, you get to see the different features that made life in this underground city as usual as the life above the ground.

If you have been to Derinkuyu, you will notice that the tunnels here are narrower. Therefore, exploring the tunnels can be quite challenging for tourists as it was for invaders hundreds of years ago. These narrow tunnels forced invaders to crouch and form a single file, making it easier for citizens to defend their city.

Other impressive features of the city are the massive round stone boulder sit in doorways leading to tunnels. Several men would roll the boulder across the doorway during an attack, lock the invaders outside and the city inhabitants inside.

Entrance Fee
50 TL per person.

Opening Hours
From April 1st to October 1st, the city is open between 8 am and 7 pm.
From October 1st to April 1st, it is open between 8 am and 5 pm.

Cappadocia Tours

What is Nearby

There are lots of magnificent attractions near the underground city of Kaymakli. These include the Derinkuyu Underground City, Pasabag Valley, Goreme Open Air Museum, and Zelve Open Air Museum.

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