The Thrilling Underground City of Ozkonak in Cappadocia
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Ozkonak Underground City

An ancient subterranean shelter

Best Known for
Stone doors

Built
4th century BCE

Civilization
Byzantine

Suggested Duration
40 min

If it is about the surprises of mother nature, Cappadocia has lots of them, but underground cities are by far the most jaw-dropping. Hidden beneath the moonscape topography of this magical region are 36 underground cities. For centuries, these magnificent structures have hosted Cappadocians and provided them with a haven from those who sought their destruction.

Of all the underground towns in the region, the ones at Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are the most extensive and, thus, the most visited. This leaves at least 34 hidden treasures, and of these, Ozkonak underground city is one of the best.

The little-known town is smaller than those at Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, but it still strives to provide visitors with an almost similar experience in an underground city.

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If it is about the surprises of mother nature, Cappadocia has lots of them, but underground cities are by far the most jaw-dropping. Hidden beneath the moonscape topography of this magical region are 36 underground cities. For centuries, these magnificent structures have hosted Cappadocians and provided them with a haven from those who sought their destruction.

Of all the underground towns in the region, the ones at Kaymakli and Derinkuyu are the most extensive and, thus, the most visited. This leaves at least 34 hidden treasures, and of these, Ozkonak underground city is one of the best.

The little-known town is smaller than those at Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, but it still strives to provide visitors with an almost similar experience in an underground city.

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

The History

Layers

Comparison

Key Features

Tips & Etiquette

Millions of years ago, multiple volcanic eruptions covered the Cappadocian region in ash, which later solidified into soft volcanic rock. Today, most of the features in Cappadocia, including underground cities, are primarily accredited to the softness of the volcanic rock in the region.

With that in mind, Ozkonak Underground City was carved out around the 4th century BCE. Later on, the Persians came and then the Romans, but it is the Christians of the Byzantine Empire who take all the credit for expanding the underground city. These Christians were escaping persecution, and when they landed in the region, they expanded the Ozkonak by adding churches and religious schools in the already established city.

Long after it was abandoned, a farmer discovered the city in 1972. It happened when he noticed that when he watered his crops, the water would mysteriously drain into the ground. Upon further excavation, archeologists uncovered an underground city that could hold hundreds of people at a go.

Ozkonak underground city has ten descending levels. Of the ten floors, only four are open to the public, but these provide visitors with enough insight into life in an underground city.

First Floor

The utilization of floors in this underground city is quite similar to the one in other subterranean towns. Therefore, the first floor was used as a barn where the animals stayed.

Second and Third Floors

Here in the second and third levels, there are living rooms, wine cellars, churches, and kitchens. Life went on naturally on these floors, and there were even graveyards for burying the dead.

Fourth Floor

This level is different from those found in other underground cities; it is believed to serve as an escape tunnel to more complicated sections for security. Therefore, the floor was designed so that only one person could enter at a time.

Apart from utilizing the fourth level as a prison, Ozkonak is also unique in three major areas.

First, it has a simple communication system in place that allowed inhabitants of different levels to communicate with each other. These were in the form of channels connecting the stories.

The second significant difference is that the rollable stone doors placed at the levels’ entrances have holes drilled in them. These holes were used to pour hot oil on the enemy during invasions and worked exceptionally well when the inhabitants had to defend their city.

Finally, when you compare the ventilation channels of Ozkonak to Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, you will notice that they are narrower (5-8 cm in diameter).

  • The city has a depth of 40m.
  • There is a water well that provided the city inhabitants with clean water.
  • The oil holes weren’t the city’s only line of defense; there were other ambushes in the narrow tunnels to combat the hostiles if they made it into the city.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hire a guide because to enjoy the city, you must be accompanied by someone familiar with the place who can paint a vivid picture of how life went on in the city.
  • If you are claustrophobic, have a chronic disease, hypertension, or are in the late months of your pregnancy, a tour to the city may not be a smooth ride. Some passageways are too narrow and are thus likely to make the whole experience a little bit hard on you. Nonetheless, compared to other underground cities in the region, this tour is much easier for people with health issues.

Visiting the Underground City of Ozkonak

The underground city of Ozkonak may not be as big as the other subterranean cities, but it is still one of the finest examples in the region. Like any other ghost town, it has the same haunted aura but gives you that wonderful, exhilarating feeling as you explore its mazy tunnels and rooms. During your tour, the town will stimulate your imagination as you move from room to room and level to level.

Only in these rooms and tunnels can you truly appreciate this historical paradise. Some of the tunnels are quite narrow and small, so standing upright may prove challenging sometimes. This narrowness was a defense mechanism; invaders would be forced to enter the city crouched over and in a single file, making it easy for the defenders to eliminate them at the other end of the tunnel.

The storages and other similar communal areas here are proof enough that life went on here as it would in a surface town; inhabitants would continue with their learning, and the devout would continue with their prayers no matter how bad things were at the surface. The winery will also impress you since it shows that inhabitants of Ozkonak would continue producing this holly beverage and maybe even hold celebrations at times, just like in any typical town.

The massive boulders at the entrance of each level will leave you scratching your head on how the men of the city were actually able to roll them in time before their persecutors caught up to them. The sheer size of these boulders is staggering, and this helps paint the picture of how hectic the battles would be. Nonetheless, they could only be rolled from the inside and were thus extremely useful in keeping invaders out.

The ventilation systems here were executed perfectly, perhaps better than in most underground cities. Therefore, you will most likely spend more time here trying to wrap your head around how the city architects could develop this perfect mechanism.

Another fun thing to do while in the underground town is to try out the communication channels that allowed different levels to pass information. You can do that quite easily, especially if you are visiting Ozkonak while in a group; you have to occupy different levels and maybe, enjoy talking to each other via the communication channels.

Cappadocia Tours

What is Nearby

There are lots of incredible attractions near the underground city of Kaymakli. These include the Avanos, Pasabag Valley, Goreme Open Air Museum, Zelve Open Air Museum, and many more.

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