The Exotic Land of Cappadocia, Turkey

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Church carved from rock in Cappadocia

Underground cities? Check.  Exotic rock formations? Check.  Houses dug into the side of mountains where families have lived for thousands of years? Check.

The beginning of underground complexes at Cappadocia are due to the splendor of nature and the imagination and creativity of man.

The underground tunnels have been around forever and have been inhabited since prehistoric times.

The ingenuity of man is what has formed these extended massive complexes.  It is one of the most fascinating places to visit in the world which ironically is not visited by many tourists. This is included in many of the Turkey Tours provided by many companies.

The land was the home of the Hittites and the Hittite empire which extended its power throughout Asia Minor.

Many believe that the name Cappadocia is derived from the ancient language of the Hittite’s meaning land of beautiful horses.

Hittite refuges used the caves to hide from different invading armies.  The same Hittite empire was also a major competitor to the ancient Egyptian empire during the time that Ramses the Great ruled Egypt.  Totaling 36 underground cities, the Christians also called this home when they were escaping the persecution of the Romans.  Pretty smart!  The area was also ruled by the Greeks, Romans, the Byzantines, and then later by Turks.

There are a total of 36 underground cities diving roughly 18 stories deep.  At one point the largest of these cities housed over 20,000 people and contained everything you would find in today’s modern cities including much needed ventilation shafts.

They cities even housed horse stables underground believe it or not!  Schools were

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Unique Rock Formations

Also built in the underground infrastructure, churches that housed different religions, wine cellars, rooms for study, and doors that could roll and seal off entry ways.

Truly an enigmatic place to visit when you are completing all your things to do in Turkey!  It truly is a unique place as many cultures crossed paths here in ancient times.

The underground cities are so large that it would take you at least 3 days to explore some of them.  Above ground you have very interesting rock formations to see but most of the sites are underground.

Don’t forget to visit the tombs that are underground as well, I won’t be responsible for any nightmares. Enjoy!


  1. Hey Marcello,

    Just an fyi, it wasn’t the Hittites who excavated the underground cities — they lived in walled cities, overground — although people have occasionally lived in caves in the region for a very long time. And I really don’t think any of them are so big that they’d take three days to explore.

    The general assumption is that, like the churches, the underground cities were built by Christians fleeing persecution, although some argue that they were also used as military structures by the Byzantine empire (hence the stables). This is a good book on the Hittites, if you’re interested in finding out more, http://www.amazon.com/Hittites-Contemporaries-Revised-Enlarged-Ancient/, while this has some resources on cave living in Cappadocia: http://www.fairychimney.com/english/documentation/science.htm

    1. Hey Theodora thanks for the note… the city was dug out by the people that were living there and the people of Cappadocia were part of the Hittite Empire which is why I mentioned in. While some of the cities may have been walled as part of the empire the people of Cappadocia were part of the empire. Cheers!

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