CITIES OF DERINKUYU AND KAYMAKLI
interesting phenomenon found in Cappadocia is its underground cities. Although
many underground cities were discovered in Cappadocia, the finest examples are
Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, which are located between Nevsehir and Nigde. Beneath
the earth lie these rock-cut cities, which extend for several kilometers in
different directions. Certain parts of the cities have up to eight or nine
levels, and form a veritable labyrinth of narrow tunnels leading to rooms of
various sizes numbering in the thousands. The tunnels meet at intersections
where they form squares.
cities were almost perfect as a system of defense. In times of danger very
large slabs of rock resembling millstones were placed at the entrances and in
the tunnels. Everything required for life underground was carved from the
rock: defense posts for the guards, escape tunnels, and rooms of various sizes
furnished with beds, tables, storage areas, stables, and chapels. An efficient
man-made system of air shafts provided ventilation even at the deepest levels
of the underground cities.
underground cities existed prior to the Christian era, they were especially
useful during the Arab attacks. Numerous military strategies to stop the Arabs
were unsuccessful, and therefore people were forced to retreat to their
underground cities. Those who lived in the mountainous areas of Cappadocia, on
the other hand, skillfully carved their dwellings high in the cliffs and in
cones, which provided natural camouflage and inaccessibility.
interesting to note that underground cities appear to have been used even
before the Arab invasions. One of the oldest known descriptions of an
underground city is found in the 5th century B.C. historian Xenophon's
Anabasis. In this work he describes his visit to a nearby town named
"Dana" where the villagers had underground dwellings. Xenophon
mentions that the entrances to the cities resembled wells; the rooms, however,
were quite large, and some were used for housing goats, sheep, and poultry.
Corn, rice, and barley wine were stored in large jars. Xenophon warns about a
potent barley wine and advises that it be diluted with water.