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Notes From the Underground: Exploring Kaymakli, an Underground City in Turkey

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I don't usually take guided group tours — I prefer to sightsee at my own pace whenever possible. But last week when I was in Goreme, Turkey, I was very glad that I decided to see Kaymakli Underground City with a group tour. That place is spooky and even though there are color-coded arrows you can follow that guide you along, I wouldn't have wanted to be down there on my own. After all, the city was designed to confuse strangers so the inhabitants would be safe from attacks.

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Kaymakli Underground City goes eight stories underground, but only four are accessible. It's not like an apartment building with flat levels — instead of descending/ascending floor by floor, it's more like room by room. It's hard to tell how far down you really are.

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Another reason why having a guide is beneficial is that the signs in the underground city and very basic, just like the facilities themselves. Without a guide, it would have been even harder to picture what life must have been like for the 3,000 Byzantine Christians who would live in Kaymakli to escape the Persian and Arabic armies during the 6th and 7th centuries. For example, they would use huge round stone doors (pictured right) to block key entrances. Also, I was impressed to see that they had ovens, wineries and stables down there. Kaymakli really is an amazing site to visit — a unique look at an interesting period of history. If you're in Cappodocia, Turkey, don't miss the chance to visit it or one of the other underground cities; there are 37 in all.

2 Responses to Notes From the Underground: Exploring Kaymakli, an Underground City in Turkey

  1. Daniel July 12, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    My friend travelled through Goreme last year and related how amazing this palce was — but her pictures weren’t nearly as good! Couldn’t imagine 3,000 people in such close quarters. Thanks for sharing!

  2. offtoeurope.com July 14, 2009 at 3:52 am #

    I was in Goreme and visited the Kaymakli Underground City about two months ago. I was on a guided tour from Cairo to Istanbul. I found Kaymakli fascinating and still can’t believe that it was only discovered around 50 years ago. If you visit the Kaymakli Underground City make sure you purchase the inexpensive homemade woolen gifts from the local women that are purchase outside the exit.

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