The Subterranean Cities Of Cappadocia

There are some secret places on this earth that man has been forced to create, not to enjoy, but to be able to survive. To escape harsh elements, but mostly, as a refuge from tyranny and persecution. Because he was perceived to be different. Or just because he did not happen to pray to the ‘right’ God.

The surreal lunar landscape of Cappadocia conceals a massive network of such secret places……whole subterranean cities, several layers deep! Originally thought to have been built over 3500 years ago, by the Hittites making their last stand against the enemy they called the ‘Sea People’, they were later used by early Christians fleeing persecution by the Romans.

Narrow claustrophobic tunnels lead to large rooms with ventilation shafts and niches in walls for oil lamps. The first level was always reserved for stables and animal pens. With living areas, kitchens, churches and store rooms stretching below over several levels. There were baths, toilets and wineries too! And dry wells for water storage and wet wells over natural springs, both inter-connected for a continuous supply of fresh water.

Massive grain stores ensured the inhabitants could survive a siege underground almost indefinitely! The dead were interred in temporary burial chambers till their remains could be transferred to permanent graves outside.

There are reputedly innumerable underground cities around Cappadocia spread over a radius of a hundred square miles! Only forty have been excavated so far, and of these just six are open to the public.

A fascinating part of any Cappadocia itinerary, but don’t expect artwork and mosaic, at least not in the ones open to the public. And do not attempt it if you are the least bit claustrophobic.

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

118 thoughts on “The Subterranean Cities Of Cappadocia

  1. Oh boy, Madhu, this is fabulous, I knew you’d have something wonderful to share for this theme, and you didn’t disappoint. Cappadocia is really high up on my list of places to see, and after this post, it has moved very close to the top of the list.

    1. Cappadoccia is an amazing place, it deserves to be on top of your list. Glad you liked tis Ailsa. Look forward to the next prompt 🙂

  2. WOW! Great contribution to the challenge’s theme…what an amazing feat of community planning, engineering and architecture too.

    1. Glad you think so. I believe it was its location on the main trade routes between India, China and the west that made it prone to frequent raids and hence the need for these secret places. Thanks, always enjoy your visits 🙂

    1. Not at all marina 🙂 And not for people who do not appreciate history, because there isnt’t a whole lot to see really. We heard several people complaining and wanting to return!! Appreciate your sharing your thoughts Marina.

  3. Oh my goodness this post was made just for me,loved the shots,looks like my kinda place…. all secret hidden planning evil things (you know how villains are they got to do their work..) and bollywood evil laughter in the background he he haw haw haw
    i may have lived there in my past life
    if not i would be terribly dissapointed
    super loved it 🙂

    1. Just the place for your fertile imagination! I can almost imagine you slaying villains in there Bollywood Ishtyle 🙂 You will love Capadoccia Soma.

    1. You are most welcome Lynne. It isn’t stuffy and smelly like inside the Pyramids, but you do feel hemmed in and one needs to traverse some of the passages almost bent double!

  4. Again Madhu, your post has me dreaming of a trip to Turkey sometime in the future! What a wonderful interpretation of the theme – I did know about the “fairy chimneys” of Cappadocia but not of these underground cities.

    1. Turkey is vastly underestimated for some reason. When we went, we were asked “Why Turkey, before so many other nicer destinations?” We liked it so much, we returned a few years later to Istanbul! Thanks for visiting as always James 🙂

  5. Hooray Madhu this is awesome, wasn’t it an incredible place. I was there in June last year and you? If you say June as well I’ll scream! 🙂 Gx

  6. I love your post, you keep putting up pictures of places I’ve been. I was there in 2000. I wonder what you’ll post next, and if I’ll have been there too. 🙂

    1. You could check out my index and only read the ones you haven’t visited 🙂 You couldn’t possibly have been to Laitan and the Chongqing region in China (click on images on the right to check these out). Laitan is truly my secret place!

  7. …a hundred square miles, amazing! I’m in awe… Thank you for sharing the story and awesome photos!

  8. Great interpretation of the theme,what a fantastic place and great pics.

  9. Ah Cappadoccia, one of the places I really want to visit in Turkey. I’m not a huge fan of narrow underground places, but I definitely won’t mind walking (or crawling) in those tunnels. They’re just amazing! Did you also take the hot-air balloon?

    1. Wouldn’t have missed the balloon ride for the world Bama! Did a post on it titled ‘Floating over fairy Chimneys”.

  10. Madhu, I never tire of your photos or your travel stories. Every post is so interesting and beautiful. Thank you!

  11. Lovely post and lovely pictures, Madhu. 🙂 I appreciate the information you give us. It feels like we are there, in that place too.

  12. This is simply Wonderful, Madhu. Like these pictures a lot. I wonder, you traveled all over the world or what! You are one lucky person, to visit so many wonderful places. Great work as always. 🙂

  13. Loved this one. Reminded me of my childhood when I would find my very own “secret lair” under the dining table! A great write, Madhu and nice pix. Shakti

    1. Thanks Shakti. Appreciate your dropping by my blog. And delighted that this led me to your wonderful site.

  14. One can really find inspiration in your posts and it is always packed with nicely taken photos 🙂 A very interesting post Madhu! I wouldn’t mind moving into a subterranian city with this heat wave here 😉

    1. Oh, thank you! Didn’t have that one in my hoard 🙂 Jokes apart, I truly appreciate the thought. Thanks again.

  15. Great photos and writing Madhu.
    I am a big fan of looking around I go to old abandoned army forts and abandoned buildings on of the places I want to see is Catacombes de Paris, and now this place 🙂

    1. Thank you Jim. We skipped the Catacombes in Paris on our last visit since we were short of time. Perhaps another day

  16. These photographs are amazing! You’ve shared much information.
    Thanks you for your comments earlier, and thank you for the follow. xo

  17. Stunning!!!!! Our world is so mysterious! Thank-you for the “likes.”

  18. Wow Madhu this is fascinating and your photos really capture the beauty of the place. You warn don’t go if you’re claustrophobic? How did a claustrophobic person LIVE down there?
    I’d really love to go to Turkey one day!

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