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.
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.
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.