I’ve already shown you the oddly shaped rock formations up on the surface here at Cappadocia. Turns out the unusual shape theme continues underneath the surface too: man-made caves – ‘upside-down skyscrapers’. Well, why not? After all, pumice is very soft for a rock, so it’s not crazy difficult to carve out (as it no doubt was in Baalbek); also – it doesn’t need strengthening; also – due to the dry climate there’s no water needs pumping out from the underground depths.
Then it seems that everything was forgotten about and abandoned (as often happened), and the caves were taken over by dust, decay and depression. Then, centuries – or millennia – later, Homo sapiens rediscovered them, and archeologists, historians and researchers got down to revealing them though their archeological digs. Today, many of the underground ‘neighborhoods’ have been dug out, cleaned, tidied, fitted with staircases and electricity (!), and probably will have free Wi-Fi fitted very soon too – all to cater for the many tourists who visit.
The comfortable staircases don’t go right down to the lower depths: things get too narrow down there, so you have to take the ‘original’ stone steps – if your girth allows it ).
These caves all belong to the Kaymakli Underground City. And it turns out that different peoples, observing various religions, in different centuries – they all had a go at going underground with their picks and shovels; the result – this here underground settlement, which stretches nearly 20 kilometers across!
It’s basically a multistory labyrinth of tunnels, or ‘streets’, with room after room, some of them doubling up as pantries. And just like any city above ground, this one, too, has a central square:
Here, I reckon – a warehouse with the respective storage shelves. Ideal temperatures too: constantly low here underground; not like up above ground.
Btw: historians still can’t work out if folks lived here permanently of just at times of war, and, at least during the latter – whether this place was generally a refuge used to get away from baddies up above, or whether it was the other way round – the baddies used it as their base to make attacks on the goodies up above the ground? We’ll probably never know for sure now…
But this here was for sure a church. Christians would hide from the Romans down here:
Nice steps. But, of course – they’ve been added not so long ago. They didn’t have cement when these tunnels were originally dug out.
What’s this, an urban studio?
Corridor leading to the next apartment:
A multi-room townhouse:
Surely not. It’s more likely they stored water here under a layer of oil – so it didn’t evaporate. Ancient technology that still works today ). The same technique was used in the Masada fortress.
Corridor Tunnel. 150cm high!
Apparently there’s a tiny tunnel like this one that runs a full 10km to the neighboring underground settlement. A bit too much of a squeeze for us though.
Woah – ventilation holes. Respect: air conditioning from 2000 years ago!
Verging on kunst:
Yes – a very interesting place. If ever you’re in Cappadocia, make sure to check it out.
Next up: the upper floors of the underground city’s caves:
Canteen: stone table, stone bench all around it. I couldn’t find the kitchen, mind ).
Some of these churches cut out of the stone date back to the sixth century!
In some churches – no photography. Question: why? Maybe protection of the frescoes from all the flash photography?
Here: photos permitted ->
In closing, a few words about the wonderful museum hotel here we stayed at. Just check out this room: a modern take on Game-of-Thrones-esque castle interiors.
Just in case you have to fight off intruding Wildlings of a night:
Vinyl. 78rpm by the looks of it too ).
The view from the balcony:
The hotel’s corridors:
Up they go! ->
Now, remember how I told you about a local who started the hot-air balloons thing? And he later went into the hotel business? Well, it was ‘into’ this hotel that he went (if I followed the story correctly)! And who can blame him? )
And that’s all for today folks. Back tomorrow… from Byblos!…
All the photos from Cappadocia are here.