The Kaymakli Underground City of Cappadocia

An underground city – it sounded like something from the future I thought. However, it’s thought that the Kaymakli Underground City in Cappadocia dates back to the 7 – 8th century, dug by the an Indo-European Phrygians.ย The UNESCO listed World Heritage Site of Kaymakli is one of 36 underground cities in Cappadocia, with Kaymakli spanning the widest area. The chances are that wherever you go in Cappadocia it’s possible that an underground city might be lurking below.ย 

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This is what makes the landscape of Cappadocia one of the most unique I have experienced – cities below and fairy chimneys above, making it the perfect place to explore and discover hidden gems.

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A 30 minute shuttle bus from Goreme and we are dropped off at a very touristy looking market. We make our way to the entrance of the underground city – resisting the urge to purchase a carpet, apple tea or Turkish delight en-route. Weย are greeted at the ticket booth by a local guide offering to show us around for a negotiable fee. Fascinated by the idea of an underground city and itching to know more, we agree to use his services.

IMG_0069Pushing through the turnstiles I get a buzz of adrenaline as we head deeper and deeper into the tunnels. The light fades, the air gets thinner and the temperature cools as we push 60 metres below ground level. We twist, duck and squeeze through narrow tunnels and doorways, following our guides every step.

I feel like we are in an Indiana Jones movies searching for a hidden treasure and at any moment I could be running from a giant boulder! The journey was as fascinating as the destinations themselves, underground chapels, stables, living quarters, storage rooms and traps. Occasionally the ceilings would be high enough to allow us to stretch out and listen to our guide bring the place to life with his vivid story telling – before excitedly following him onto the next destination.

It surprises me that it really did feel like a city down here – rather than just a maze of endless tunnels. You can almost imagine what it must have been like when populated with 3,000+ people rather than a few hundred tourist. We continue to explore the city for an hour – clinging to our guides every word. As we emerge from underground covering our eyes from the bright light, our guide tells us that only a tiny percentage of the city has been cleared and opened to the public. The mind boggles to how large the Kaymakli Underground City really is and what else lies below, hidden for generations. We take a deep breath of fresh air and head back through the market to find an apple tea.

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Hi, I’m Adam Constanza, freelance travel content creator living, working and supporting tourism in Timor Leste, South East Asia.

Adam Constanza

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