When I first learned about Cappadocia, I was up late watching a late night Sci Fi show on Ancient Alien God theory. The spokey of underground cities where 20,000 people could live in caves. The spoke cave cities of 13 levels deep and how for thousands of years these caves had lasted time. No one really knows how old these caves are… you can’t carbon date a cave. They think they are at least 1700-2000 years old. These caves helped save Christianity at a time where it was illegal and the Romans were looking to wipe it out! How do we know? There are hundreds of early 3rd and 4th century cathedrals built by these Christians. They went on to say there are 36 such cities that could support a hundreds of thousands of people…. underground! Some cities are connected by 9 KM tunnels. Only 10% of the caves had even been excavated. What!!? Seems to me like we’d learn more about ourselves and where we came from if we knew more about these caves. Why have I not heard of such an incredible place before? I immediately added it to my list. About 6 months later, when I was planning a trip to Sofia, Bulgaria I remembered these incredible stories and decided… I must go. I priced it out and for less than $200 I could visit this place. You can fly to within an hour of the place. I decided I needed to see how much of this was real. Much to my surprise, these crazy facts were real! I read as much as I could and gasped at the amazing pictures on any image search. I dare you to look. If you’re a world traveller, you’ll immediately add this to your list, and if not it will be a bucket list item. Don’t wait till you’re too old for this one. Remember there’s hiking and walking in caves. You don’t want to hurt your back.
How this destination of underground city supports a population larger than most civilizations at the time still boggles my mind. No way. Too incredible. Who wiped out these ancient people? Who were they, what did they believe? Was it an attempt to escape an alien overlord? Doesn’t matter. Despite whether you believe aliens built the multiple thousand year old tunnels or believe it was the Hittites an ancient civilization that’s no longer around, the mystery of these crazy tunnels and underground cities are no less of a wonder. There’s a lot you can read about Derinkuyu, the largest underground city in the world, less than 30 minute drive from Goreme. It’s only been available for tours since 1969. There are plenty of tours that take you on organized tours or you can rent a car and take it at your pace. The tunnels are excavated. I went 8 levels deep on my tour and there were at least 4 or 5 tunnels that went off into the dark, one such tunnel my guide explained went to the next city. In the underground city you’ll find a winery, church, animal stalls, wells, ancient phone system, ventilation shafts, and a morgue. I visited all of these places on my tour.