Derinkuyu and Kaymakli

Listed since 1959, Cappadocia alone contains more than 200 underground cities. Of these, Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are among the few open to the general public. Unsurprisingly, they attract large numbers of curious visitors every year to discover this astonishing way of life. Other towns in the region are also well worth a visit, including the must-see Göreme, Uçhisar and Ürgüp.

Set out on several levels, the different rooms in these cities are built around ventilation shafts to let oxygen into the basements, to prevent death by asphyxiation. In fact, the deeper you go into the long underground mazes, the smaller the spaces become and the more scarce the fresh air... A strange experience, to be had at least once in your life. For safety reasons, but also to preserve places that are unique in the world, the lowest levels of these underground cities are generally closed to the public.

In the heart of the underground city of Derinkuyu, in Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © Parilov / Shutterstock

The underground city of Derinkuyu

One of the most popular tourist sites in Cappadocia, the underground town of Derinkuyu is the largest known troglodyte city in Turkey. It was discovered accidentally by a local resident in 1963, when he was renovating his home. By breaking down a wall, the Turk was surprised to discover a city buried beneath his house.

In the heart of the underground city of Derinkuyu, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © natalia_maroz / Shutterstock

Several years of excavations revealed a vast network of underground passages, including churches, wine cellars and a school. Built around 1400 BC to protect itself from the invasions that were disrupting the region, the city of Derinkuyu is a veritable labyrinth over 85 metres deep. Of the city's 20 levels, visitors can explore the first 8 since it was opened to the public in 1965.

Gateway to the underground city of Derinkuyu, Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © Aleksandar Todorovic / Shutterstock

Where to eat near the city of Derinkuyu?

The entrance to the underground city of Derinkuyu is right in the centre of the town of Derinkuyu-Nevşehir. So you'll find a number of restaurants and cafés close to the site, with a local, family-friendly atmosphere. In a simplistic, unpretentious setting, the Keskin and Doyum restaurants serve good traditional dishes at low prices. For a meal on the go or a break at snack time, the Bey Konağı café also remains a safe bet.

The underground city of Kaymakli

Around 10 kilometres from Derinkuyu, the underground city of Kaymakli also has an underground section. Smaller than Derinkuyu, Kaymakli has only 4 floors accessible to the general public. However, it is still the second-largest underground city in Cappadocia.

Inside the underground city of Kaymakli in Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © Mitzo / Shutterstock

The city of Kaymakli is made up of countless galleries dug into the volcanic tuff. To protect themselves from invaders, the inhabitants of the time, as in Derinkuyu, built a veritable city several metres underground. On level -1, the various rooms were used at the time to store livestock, as a larder and as accommodation for the upper classes. The poorest were housed on the lower floors, where space was more limited and air was scarcer. Now uninhabited, this troglodyte city can be visited all year round.

View from the exit of the underground city of Kaymakli in Cappadocia (Turkey)

- © Julia Agin / Shutterstock

⭐ Where to stay near Derinkuyu and Kaymakli?

The cave cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are close to each other, so you'll have no trouble finding accommodation that allows you to visit both sites in a day. On the Derinkuyu-Nevşehir side, the Cappadocia Nar Cave Hotel is a real nugget, allowing you to sleep in luxurious cave rooms. Just a stone's throw from the Kaymakli site, the Crystal Kaymakli Hotel & Spa also invites you to relax in a more contemporary setting. Finally, just a few kilometres away, the town of Göreme also offers a wide range of accommodation opportunities in idyllic surroundings.

Crystal Kaymakli Hotel & Spa Cappadocia
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Crystal Kaymakli Hotel & Spa

Hotel with outdoor swimming pool
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Visit other cave dwellings in Cappadocia

As well as the underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, Cappadocia is famous the world over for its troglodytic dwellings, carved out of the rock. To discover and appreciate these amazing dwellings, be sure to visit the towns of Göreme, in the valley of the same name, and Uçhisar. A little less touristy, but just as fascinating, is the village of Ürgüp, which has also managed to retain all its charm, with its dwellings nestling between rock formations.

Accommodation in the Ürgüp caves in Cappadocia

- © Karel Stipek / Shutterstock
by Editorial Team
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