Derinkuyu Underground City, Cappadocia
It’s unknown exactly how old these tunnels are, with some archaeologists believing they date all the way back to the Hittites around 1200 BC. Others believe they’re even older – nobody knows for sure.
What is known with certainty is that they were used by the early Christians to escape persecution at the hands of the Romans, and later from invading Arab civilizations. The stone in Cappadocia is relatively easy to carve: it’s soft but hardens once it touches the air, making it ideal for exactly this form of settlement.
Of course, even at the height of Derinkuyu most people didn’t live full time in the underground cities. They were built as a refuge, and their vast tunnels even held traps for invading armies such as stones that could be rolled to block doorways and holes in the ceiling for spears to poke out an eye. Another advantage of the narrow tunnels is that they gave no advantage to large armies that would still have to march single file through a tunnel and were, therefore, vulnerable to the defending locals.
Tuz Cave, Çankırı
The 5,000-year-old Tuz Cave (lit. Salt Cave) from the Hittite civilization is located 20 kilometers from the city center of Çankırı.
The cave is 150 m below the ground. It is one of the oldest and largest salt mines in the world: salt has been extracted here for approximately 5,000 years.
Currently, some sections of the cave have been turned into an exhibition area.
Salt sculptures that were made at the “Orhun Monuments Salt Workshop” organized by Çankırı Municipality with the participation of famous sculptors from Turkish republics and European countries are on display here. Another distinguishing feature of the cave is that the carcasses of animals do not decompose but instead are preserved by the cave’s unique atmosphere.
The cave is believed to be beneficial for the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, and lung diseases.
Other Caves in the Central Anatolia Region
- Balatini Cave, Konya (Requires equipment)
- İncesu Cave, Karaman (Requires equipment)
- Körükini Cave, Konya (Requires equipment)
- Suluin Cave, Konya (Requires equipment)
- Gürlevik Cave, Karaman (Open only to professionals)
- Pınarbaşı Cave, Konya (Open only to professionals)
- Sakaltutan Cave, Konya (Open only to professionals)
- Susuz Güvercinlik Cave, Konya (Open only to professionals)