There are 36 underground cities in the Cappadocia region. The underground city in Derinkuyu are the deepest, and Kaymakli Underground City is known to be the largest.
Kaymakli Underground City was first opened to tourists in 1964. It consists of eight floors below ground, but only four levels are open to the public. We paid an entrance fee of 10 Turkish Lira, and hired a guide for 35 Turkish Lira more, per adult.
Our guide, Shakri, was a retired school teacher and spoke excellent English. In his quiet, respectful, tone he explained that in the 1960’s, his family had lived in a cave house near the underground city. The government had suddenly moved them to alternative accommodation so that the city could be developed for tourism. I could only imagine what he must be feeling as he guided our group through the tunnel on that cool May morning.
Archaeologists believe that the upper layers were first carved out by the Hittites in about 2000BC.
Our guide’s soft voice echoed as he explained that Kaymakli Underground City is the most complex below ground city in the region. He explained that, over the years, they have found everything from living space, stables, communal kitchens, to a church and graveyard as well.
We moved carefully through the chilly tunnels. Our guide stopped to talk, only in rooms where we our small group could stand and listen in semi comfort. His torch lite the dark corners of many storage rooms.
Shakri explained that even though the whole city has not been completely opened, many are certain that Kaymakli is one of the largest underground settlements in the Cappadocia region.
Archaeologists believe that the large number of storage areas, and earth ware jars support the belief that as many as 3500 residents, at one time, sought safety in this ancient cave cities.