The Discovery of Derinkuyu Underground City

The Discovery of Derinkuyu Underground City

Aug 28, 2020Peter File

You never know what secret lies beneath the very house you live in - a man in Turkey decided to knock down a wall in his house one day, and what he discovered was one of the oldest, biggest underground cities in the world. Here's the story of how a man discovered one of the world's grandest underground cities - by accident. 

How It Was Discovered

The year was 1963, nearly half a century ago from today. Things were thriving in Turkey, and one local resident decided to renovate his house - however, in order to do so, he had to knock down some walls. No big deal, he thought, as it was a seemingly easy task. However, once he started knocking down the walls, he noticed something queer behind. 

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Secret Tunnels

Once he knocked down the walls, he noticed something queer about the things that lie behind the walls - instead of solid rocks, he came across a secret room, shrouded in darkness and mystery. Aroused by curiosity, he decided to find out what it was exactly. 

A Magnificent Discovery

They knew they came across something break - discovering an underground city is a big deal indeed when it comes to archaeological achievements. But what was it exactly? How big is it really? They decided to get to the bottom of the barrel, and more professionals were called in to join the expedition, to get to the bottom of the barrel... or in this case, to find the end of the tunnels.

More Rooms and Tunnels

Seemingly empty and abandoned, it was understood that the structure, or rather the city itself, had been deserted for generations, if not for centuries. However, despite the condition, based on the layout and design, with rooms of various sizes and layouts, it seems that they serve different purposes, corresponding to the theory that it was, indeed, an underground city. 


What they discovered, and what the local resident stumbled upon by accident, was none other than the underground city of Derinkuyu. Here we should mention that instead of a few underground levels as with other underground cities, this place that they came across came with a whopping 18 levels! 

When It Was Built

It was believed that this particular underground city, Derinkuyu, was created during the Byzantine era in 780-1180 AD, long before the arrivals of the Ottomans. It was believed by scientists and archaeologists that the impressive underground city was built as a bunker to protect inhabitants during wartime or from natural disasters.

Other Theories

However, there are still debates as to when it was built exactly. Some believed that the underground city was built between the 12th and the 8th centuries B.C., much later to the first estimation, and that the city was built by the Phrygians, adversaries of the Hittites.

Complex Door Systems

The reason why they believed that it was built for protection was the door system - the city itself was closed with massive, heavy stone doors that were closed from the inside, blocking the intruders and prevent them from entering. There's more to it - instead of one big entrance, each floor comes with a similar door system to prevent intruders from entering. 

Numerous Entrances 

Derinkuyu also comes with numerous entrances connected to the surface, providing the residents with easy access to enter or leave the underground should they have to. It was estimated to have more than 60 entrances from the surface, all of which can be used to enter the massive underground structure. 

Rooms with Various Purposes 

The other reason why it was defined as a city but not just a mere community was its complex layout and rooms that served various purposes. Based on the historical documentation and the discovery itself, it was found that there are rooms of various sizes and layouts, serving their individual purposes. 

Living Quarters 

It was estimated that it once housed 20,000 people - with that many people in one place, different rooms have to be set up as you would with a regular city. According to The Telegraph, "Geo-radiation scanning suggests the multilevel settlement is the size of about 65 football pitches and is likely to include living spaces, kitchens, wineries, chapels, and staircases." What else is inside that place?

Everything You Might Need

The city also houses everything one might need to sustain a community - while the residents might not see the light of the day, they are also sheltered from all the threats lurking outside the massive stone doors. Beyond that, the city also comes with schools, wine cellars, oil press rooms, churches, gathering halls, shops, and of course, access to water. 

Access to Water

So how do they gain access to water? Easier than what you might have expected - underground rivers. Underground rivers run through the underground city, and it was distributed by a simple yet effective irrigation system. Apart from water, they also have access to another essential resource that helped them sustain themselves. 


Of course, for an underground city of this size, it is also to have a ventilation system to house all its residents. To do so, they utilized ventilation shafts built approximately in 15th century B.C., centuries before our time. The shafts were connected to the surface, bringing air to the seemingly claustrophobic environment; the air was then distributed using smaller tubes. 

Churches and Chapels

Apart from living quarters, religion also played a big part in the time period when it was inhabited. Therefore, traces of churches and chapels can be found in the underground city as well - they might not be able to see the sky above, but it is important to be connected to god nonetheless. 

What do you think of this underground city? Pretty neat, eh? It also shows how we, as humans managed to survive in various environments, living through different threats over the years. Would you like to pay a visit there? Or have you been there yourself? If you found this interesting, why not share it with your friends and family?