Suitcase and World: Derinkuyu.

Friday, October 17, 2014


The next place on our sightseeing itinerary took us underground.  The Green Tour had two underground cities on its itinerary. Since I had already been to Kaymaklı so I wasn't keen to go back. Besides, I had a feeling that all the underground cities are pretty much the same - just vary in size. We had asked Erdoğan for advice on which of the two cities to go to if we could only go to one. His response was that he preferred Kaymaklı but that his wife liked Derinkuyu better.  Hmmm.... I took that to mean that it's a matter of preference.

From Selime Monastery, we backtracked towards the town of Derinkuyu.  Ms. Google led us to a parking lot.  There were no signs in sight that we were at the entrance but several web searches indicated we were nearby.  So we parked and got out.  Following our instinct, we made our way past a small row of souvenir shops.  To me, that was sign that we were indeed nearby.  Somewhere.

The stores opened up to a small open plaza area. Across the way, I noticed a small brick building.  Could that be the entrance?  We decided to check it out.

The small sign by the side of the building was confirmation we were in the right place!

Our museum pass covered the entry fee so in we went.  We entered into a small room and straight ahead were steps leading down in to the dark.

Before we even had a chance to put one foot on a step, a man approached us and asked if we needed a guide.  I told Bro that walking through the underground city is best appreciated if you have someone explaining it to you so hiring the guide would be worth it.  The man asked for 50TL and we didn't even bother negotiating which we should have.  Oh well.

With our guide leading the way, we descended into the underworld of Derinkuyu.  Like all the other underground cities in the region, Derinkuyu is a multi-level underground city that goes to a depth of about 60 meters (197 feet).  It is the largest of the underground cities that have been excavated to date and when it was inhabited, it was large enough to  shelter approximately 20,000 people together with their livestock and food stores.  Wow!  That's a population larger than many a small modern day village!

All the rooms were very dimly lit so taking photos was more than challenging.  Nearly impossible to take anything that wasn't blurry but I really wanted to capture the memories so blurry better than nothing.  You've been warned.  No need to adjust your focus :-)

We went from one room to the next and descended down about 6 levels or so.  After a while, it does all become a blur.  The space that looks like the kitchen looks pretty much like the space that was supposedly a living room which looks pretty much like the space that was the store room.

I think Bro took a photo of me standing in the wine room.  Or was it the stable?  You get the picture.

Of course, there was the ubiquitous  large rock that could be rolled in front of an entry if and when invaders were around.  I say ubiquitous because they had something similar in Kaymaklı.

Our guide did point out key features like the holes that were carved into floors and ceilings that brought air and light from above.  And the small channels carved into walls that were used to bring water down to the various levels.  And the other channels that were used for communications between floors. 

Some of the passageways were really small and narrow.  Supposedly, this was done in part to slow down invaders.   I used to think I was claustrophobic and I think to some degree I do have a mild case of it - I don't like being in these narrow spaces.

For the most part, I let Bro go alone with the guide as I wanted Bro to get the full experience of seeing Derinkuyu.  For me, Derinkuyu was just like Kaymaklı or maybe I'm missing something.

At one point, I stayed back while the two guys went off to explore a space.  As I stood waiting, group after group of tourists passed me by.  I was amazed at the sheer number of people that were making their way up and down the narrow passageways.  It seemed like an eternity before Bro and the guide emerged and I think that was due in part to the crowd.

Imagine what this space would have been like without the light.  Apparently, people who lived here spent much of their time in complete darkness.  Such a tortuous way to live.  Actually, they weren't living, they were just surviving.

We ended our visit in the space that was the school room with the carved rocks that served as *desks*.  Of all the rooms we saw, this one somehow made sense.

I don't know how much Bro really got out of his visit.  I hoped he learned something as these underground cities are fascinating.  In any event, we paid our guide and then headed back to the car. It was already late afternoon and we had one last place to go to before our day would be over.  Off to Uçhisar Castle!