Underground Towns: Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia

The landscape of Cappadocia in central Turkey has been sculpted by centuries of erosion. Christians began to build Churches here as early as the 1st century. One of them is the 12th century Karanlik Church meaning “the dark church” because hardly any light penetrates inside the building. It has original fresco paintings of the time.

An underground town of amazing scale was discovered in a Cappadocia village in 1965. Locals gradually dug deeper underground as they sought refuge from invaders, eventually forming a huge 8-storey underground town. Wine was made here in a corner on the first floor. The grapes were crushed by foot – the grape juice flowed into the hole below. The juice would then be stored in a large pot to be mellowed.

Underground level 2 was used for living and storage. There is a dining room, a living room and a bedroom. People continued to dig to accommodate the growing number of people. The holes in the corridor were used primarily as a storage entrance but also served as a pitfall in times of battle. A door made of rock dominates the corridor connecting underground levels 3 and 5. It weighs one ton and once rolled into place seals off the complex from intruders. Once closed, the rock will not budge from the outside. One long well runs vertically through the underground town. The 65-metre construction not only provides water for each floor but also functions as a ventilation device. A steep staircase leads to underground level 7. At the bottom was a church caved out in the shape of a cross. The Christians of Cappadocia had created a space for their faith at the deepest level of the underground town.

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