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The remarkable Kaymakli Underground City, an ancient marvel carved into the rock, is nestled deep in Cappadocia, Turkey’s heart. This Underground labyrinth, dating back to the Byzantine era, was a refuge for early Christians seeking shelter from invaders. With its intricate network of tunnels, living quarters, and chapels, Kaymakli offers a captivating glimpse into its inhabitants’ ingenious architecture and resilience. Explore the depths of this Underground wonder and unravel the secrets of a bygone era where life flourished beneath the earth’s surface.

About Kaymakli Underground City

Explore the ancient tunnels of Kaymakli Underground City

Image Credit: Nevit Dilmen for Wikimedia Commons

Kaymaklı Underground City, nestled in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey, is an ancient marvel and a testament to human ingenuity. Initially built by the Phrygians in the 8th–7th centuries BC, this underground network was expanded by early Christians and Byzantines as a sanctuary from Arab invasions during the Arab-Byzantine wars. The city comprises a complex labyrinth of tunnels, rooms, and passages that extend over several levels. Only four floors are currently open to tourists.

First Floor: Initially, it is a stable with a millstone door leading to a sanctuary and adjacent living spaces.

Second Floor: Dedicated to worship, housing a church with two apses, a nave, an altar, seating platforms, and additional dwelling areas.

Third Floor: This floor contains significant sites, like a copper melting kettle made from an andesite block with a relief texture, alongside storage areas, vineyards, and kitchens.

Fourth Floor: This floor features numerous storage spaces and earthenware jars in vineyards, indicating a prosperous community. About 85 meters deep, a central ventilation shaft runs vertically through the floors.

It is one of the largest known underground settlements in the region. Archaeologists believe the extensive storage facilities suggest a high population density, potentially housing up to 3,500 people. Visitors can explore spaces organized around ventilation shafts, which were crucial for the city’s design, and see areas that served as stables, storage, and cellars. The subterranean metropolis served as a sanctuary for the Cappadocian Greeks, and subsequently the Rûm, amidst Ottoman oppression. It remained a bastion of safety against diverse dangers well into the 20th century.

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History Of Kaymakli Underground City

Talk a walk across the halls in the underground city of Kaymakli

Image Credit: Nevit Dilmen for Wikimedia Commons

The underground city of Kaymakli was traced to the 8th and 7th centuries BC. Kaymakli’s earliest sections were likely carved by the Phrygians, known for their Indo-European roots. As centuries passed, Greek-speaking Christians expanded the City, adding religious sites and writings. It became a sanctuary during the Arab-Byzantine conflicts and against Mongol attacks.

The City maintained its defensive role under Seljuk Turkish dominion, offering a haven from hostilities. The tunnels fell into disuse following the 1923 Greco-Turkish population exchange. Presently, Kaymakli is a living chronicle of the area’s eventful past, showcasing the creative defensive tactics of its former inhabitants.

How To Reach Kaymakli Underground City?

Cappadocia is one of the prettiest areas of Turkey

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To reach the underground city of Kaymakli, you have several options depending on your starting point and preferred mode of transportation. Some of the detailed ways to get there:

  • Driving from Göreme: If you’re in Göreme and prefer the comfort of driving, you can take a car directly to Kaymakli Underground City. The drive is quite scenic and straightforward, taking you through the beautiful landscapes of Cappadocia. The journey typically lasts about 30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. Make sure to have some local currency on hand for the parking fee at Kaymakli.
  • Taking a taxi from Göreme: For an economical and authentic local experience, consider travelling by dolmuş from Göreme to Kaymakli. Start by catching a taxi to Nevşehir, a quick 15-20 minute ride. Once in Nevşehir, head to the central dolmuş stand and board one heading towards Kaymakli. This leg of the journey will take around 20 minutes, dropping you off near the entrance of the Underground City. It’s a budget-friendly and local way to explore the area.
  • Driving from Nevşehir: For those starting from Nevşehir, driving to Kaymakli is a straightforward and convenient option. It’s a short 20-minute trip along the Nevşehir-Niğde road, with clear signage guiding you to turn left onto Kaymakli Köyü Yolu. The well-paved roads ensure a smooth ride, allowing you to focus on the excitement of reaching your historical destination.
  • Taking a taxi from Nevşehir: If you’re already in Nevşehir, you can easily find a taxi that goes directly to Kaymakli. These frequent minibuses provide a direct route to the site, making it a hassle-free travel option. The ride is about 20 minutes long, and it’s recommended that the change be ready for the fare.

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Opening Hours And Timings

Discover the ancient chambers of Kaymakli Underground City

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The Kaymakli Underground City’s opening hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. However, the ticket office closes slightly earlier, at 4:15 p.m., so make sure to arrive well before this time if you’re planning to purchase an entry on-site. The cost of admission is 250 Turkish Lira (TL) per individual. Entry is included under the Turkey Museum Pass.

Best Time To Visit

 Kaymakli Underground City in Cappadocia

Image Credit: Nevit Dilmen for Wikimedia Commons

The best times to visit Kaymakli Underground City are spring, summer, and autumn, especially in the early morning or late afternoon when visitors are least likely to be there. The summer months of June, July, and August give longer daylight hours and milder temperatures, but they are also when most people visit.

Therefore, for a more tranquil experience, exploring this remarkable subterranean complex outside of these peak times is recommended. Early morning visits are especially advisable to witness the Underground City in a quieter setting.

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Kaymakli Underground City Facts

Narrow, winding passageways of Kaymakli Underground City

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Kaymakli Underground City is one of the most fascinating historical sites in Turkey. Here are Some of the interesting Kaymakli Underground City facts that you must understand before planning to travel:

  • Historical Roots: The city is an ancient marvel, initially constructed by the Phrygians between the 8th and 7th centuries BC.
  • Christian Influence: Its expansion during the Arab-Byzantine Wars served as a sanctuary for Christians fleeing persecution.
  • Cultural Heritage: It has been open for tourism since 1964 and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Continued Relevance: The ancient secret tunnels under Kaymakli are still utilised for storage, housing animals, and wine cellars.

Tips To Keep In Mind While Visiting Kaymakli Underground City

A panoramic view of the Kaymakli Underground City

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Exploring the Kaymakli Underground City in Turkey is an adventure into the past, where you can walk through the same corridors as the ancient inhabitants once did. Below are some additional tips to enhance your visit:

  • Water: The Underground exploration can be extensive, and getting dehydrated is easy. Carry a water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your visit.
  • Guided Tours: Consider hiring a guide. They can provide fascinating insights and stories about the history and function of the various rooms and tunnels.
  • Camera: Make sure your camera or phone is fully charged. Photography is allowed, and you’ll want to capture the unique features of the Underground City.
  • Preservation: Remember that Kaymakli is a historical site. Touching the walls or removing anything from the site is strictly prohibited to preserve it for future generations

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Kaymakli Underground City is a breathtaking example of human tenacity and inventiveness. This historic treasure ensconced in the soil provides an enthralling window into the past. You’ll be taken back in time as you explore its complex chambers and passageways and imagine the lives of individuals who sought refuge in its Underground sanctuary. If you’re seeking an extraordinary adventure that blends history, architecture, and cultural immersion, plan your trip to Turkey today. Discover the mysteries of Kaymakli Underground City and set out on a once-in-a-lifetime trip through time.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Kaymakli Underground City

How deep is the Underground City in Kaymakli?

The subterranean network of Kaymakli plunges to an impressive depth of nearly 85 meters.

How many people live in the Kaymakli Underground City?

The Kaymakli once provided shelter for more than 3,500 individuals. It currently stands as an uninhabited historical monument.

Why was Kaymakli built?

Kaymaklı was built to provide sanctuary for its residents, offering a safe haven from religious oppression during the tumultuous Arab-Byzantine conflicts.

How old is Kaymakli Underground City?

The origins of Kaymakli trace back to the 7th and 8th centuries BCE, bearing witness to numerous historical epochs.

How many floors are in Kaymakli?

There are eight constructed levels within Kaymakli. Visitors can explore the four upper levels that are open for public viewing.

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