Derinkuyu is the largest underground city in Cappadocia.
Built around the eighth century BC by the Phrygians, it was large enough to house up to 50,000 people. Its eleven levels, carved into soft volcanic rock, contain wine and oil presses, storage rooms, chapels, refectories and even stables.
It’s not known exactly why the city was constructed, but archaeologists studying the site have discovered that the whole network could be sealed off from the inside by eleven stone doors. The doors are around a metre in height and between 30-50 centimetres thick. Each one weighs between 200 and 500 kilograms. This suggests that perhaps it was built as an elaborate fortress to protect against marauding forces.
The Phrygian kingdom was located in the western part of Anatolia, modern day Turkey. They had a fairly advanced society for the time they lived. They loved music and theatre and it’s thought that some of their music influenced the Greeks.
The Phrygians had many enemies, and eventually became part of the Roman Empire. Today, no trace of the Phrygian language is left – however, the famous King Midas (he of the golden touch) was thought to be a Phrygian, so their legacy remains in part.
Archaeologists are still learning about this incredible city. Only ten percent of the complex has so far been evacuated. There are around 200 of these complexes throughout Cappadocia and the Nevsehir region – Derinkuyu is even connected to some by passages.
Derinkuyu is an incredible place to visit while touring Turkey - a world away from the luxury holiday spots of the south coast.