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Discover Underground Cities in Cappadocia

Everything is not always as it seems. This is especially true of the region Cappadocia, situated in the ancient region of Anatolia in modern-day Turkey. Though at first glance it seems like a mysterious and mystifying landform, there is so much more to it, which can be seen if one looks beneath the surface.

Known as fairy chimneys, the volcanic peaks of Cappadocia paint a truly beautiful and aesthetic landscape. From a distance, the landforms could easily be mistaken for beige teepees or giant ice cream cones jutting out of the ground.

According to Ancient Origins, “The rock formations that make up Cappadocia were created by volcanic eruptions, erosion, and wind. Over three million years ago a volcanic eruption deposited a blanket of ash across the 1500 square mile landscape which formed into a soft rock. This rock, slowly eaten away by wind and time, has created some spectacular forms.”

This soft rock is exactly what made it possible for the region of Cappadocia to be so much more than just a bunch of frozen dessert treats in the ground. Possibly around 1200 BC, humans began experimenting with this soft rock, which led to the creation of some early homes.

According to Atlas Obscura, “With rock soft enough that you can easily dig right into it; part of what adds to Cappadocia’s strange appearance is that carved into every hillside, spire and boulder is a home complete with windows, bedrooms, kitchens, and multiple stories connected by ladders or steps.”

Upon first glance, Cappadocia has simply been formed by some incredibly magnificent volcanic landforms. Upon closer inspection, these landforms are actually the foundation of people’s homes and other buildings, constructed nearly a thousand years ago. Still, there is even more to be discovered here.

Beneath the ground of Cappadocia lies an extensive network of homes and underground tunnels that connect various cities of the ancient region. The underground city of Derinkuyu “is eleven levels deep, has 600 entrances, many miles of tunnels connecting it to other underground cities, and can accommodate thousands of people,” according to Ancient Origins.

It is not just a tight narrow space surrounded by dirt and clay. It is a true city beneath the surface, complete with rooms, wells, cooking areas, water tanks, and proper ventilation. Derinkuyu is just one of at least 40 known nnderground cities in the region.

According to Atlas Obscura, “The pathways and structures carved from the rock hold a long history of struggle and resistance.” Beginning in the third century, Christians fled to these underground regions to escape persecution from the Romans.

Even when the city was under attack, as Ancient Origins suggests, families accessed the underground cities through their basements, where invaders would be caught in the traps or blocked out from the underground area by the rocks rolled in the pathways to keep them out.

In addition, perhaps one of the most popular tourist attractions in this region is hot air ballooning. Because of the unique landscape, which boasts plenty of fairy chimneys, hidden homes, vineyards, and orchards, Cappadocia is a region that is breathtaking from above ground as well.

Cappadocia is an area that is absolutely stunning no matter which way it is being viewed. Whether on ground admiring the fairy chimneys, below ground in the impressive tunnels, or above ground on a magical hot air balloon ride, Cappadocia will leave any traveler amazed and inspired.

Featured Image by André-Pierre du Plessis on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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