Friday, 16 August 2013

Travels with Li Dongni - Kaymakli underground city, Turkey (September 2010)

During our honeymoon trip to Turkey, one of the most unusual places my wife and I visited was the underground city of Kaymakli, in Cappadocia.  This is just one of a number of similar subterranean settlements in the region.

The city consists of a maze of tunnels and rooms carved out of the tufa rock apparently between the 5th and 10th Centuries (though the site interpretation seemed rather hazy about the exact dating of the site).  Of the approximately 100 tunnels on 8 levels, four levels can be visited today, the site having been opened to the public since 1964.

The site is understandably very claustrophobic, and it was difficult to work out on site whether the tunnels were in constant use, or just seen as a place of refuge in times of trouble.  One thing is certain - they were very well equipped, with living rooms, storage rooms, wineries, churches and even stables included.  The efficient ventilation system also meant that the occupants could remain underground for a considerable time.

Unfortunately, due to the dark conditions it was very difficult to take photographs (and tripods would have been impossible in the close confines of the tunnels, so the photos below are not up to my usual standards.  Hopefully they still convey something of the nature of a rather unusual heritage attraction.  The large 'wheels' to roll across and close off passages are particularly 'Indiana Jones'!

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