Monday, August 25, 2014

The Underground City of Kaymakli

June 17th, 2014

Cappadocia’s volcanic earth makes it ideal for digging, and the lack of fuel makes underground storage and dwelling a good idea (temperature does not change underground).Kaymaklı is one of the largest underground settlements in the region, dating back to the Hittites  (1200 BC). It was used by the local people until the 13th century AD, as a place to hide from invaders.

In certain eras the need to develop these hideouts was greater than others. During the Roman persecution of Christians in the 2nd and 3rd century AD the need to hide was great. During this time, these underground areas were expanded.

Again, in the 8th-10th centuries when Arab raiders roamed at will, the desire to become invisible quickly was at a peak. The large area reserved for storage in such a limited area appears to indicate the need to support a large population underground, as many as 5,000 people could live in these rock rooms for months at a time.

The city was constructed in 4 levels, sprawling horizontally as well as vertically,  with connecting tunnels and narrow walkways between. (My pictures are VERY limited – I just could not get pictures that would do this justice).

A stable is located on the first floor. The livestock were kept on the first level so that they could have access above ground, and because it would have been difficult to take them down to the lower levels.

Located on the second floor is a church. Located in front of the apses is a baptismal font, and on the sides along the walls are seating platforms. Names of people contained in graves here coincide with those located next to the church, which supports the idea that these graves belonged to religious people. The church level also contains some living spaces.

The third floor contains the most important areas of the underground compound: storage places, wine or oil presses, and kitchens.

The high number of storage rooms and areas for earthenware jars on the fourth floor indicates some economic stability.

As we toured this underground city, we were glad that we do not have problems with small tight spaces.


The ceilings were low….. Fred could not stand up straight in most of the rooms.


And the passage ways were VERY narrow…….


The stairs going from one level to the next were pretty steep…..


Off to the sides of the network of walkways were rooms…..


Some fairly large and spacious……where a family might live. Our guide pointed out some ‘hooks’ carved out In the ceiling. These were thought to be used to hang a kind of hammock for the babies. (I really just kept picturing the noise…..of running children and crying babies…..)


In this picture you can see a large round stone, like the one used in one of the “Indiana Jones” movies. These stones were set upright so that they could be rolled into place to block entrance from any invaders.

This tour was a real highlight of the region. The size and elaborateness of the complex……Heck, even the idea of hiding underground for months was intriguing!

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