DERINKUYU

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Derinkuyu, which was formerly called Melengübü, lies 29 kilometers to the south of Nevşehir on the Nevşehir- Niğde highway. This agrarian town is built on the antique underground city and is therefore an attractive place for the lovers of history.

This underground city is estimated to have 18-20 floors and a depth of almost 40 meters carved in the soft tuff rocks of Cappadocia. Only 8 floors of this gigantic complex have been cleaned and opened up to visitors.

On the first floor right near the entrance we see a stable where the moulds for fodder are clearly identified. We see then next to the stable the rooms where grapes have been pressed and left to fermentation. After these rooms we come to a place covered with a barrelvault which looks like a place for religious ceremonies.

There are living rooms lined on both sides of the hallway leading to the second floor. These rooms where lots of people lived together look as complicated as labyrinths. The walls of these rooms where privacy does not look possibly have been darkened with the soot of burning fire. There are lots of cooking niches and storage moulds in the walls.

Near the kitchen we see a wine production area which is divided into a pressing room and a canal carved out of stone for the flow of grape juice. We encounter the majority of the storerooms on the third floor and there’s a tunnel here that leads to the water wells. The fourth floor shelters living rooms and some more storerooms.

A long gallery stretches directly from the third floor to the fifth one and it is constructed in such a way, that it could be closed up by a large millstone in times of danger. The ventilation pipe on the fifth floor is directly attached to the ground floor. The tunnel between the fifth and the sixth floors has living areas on both sides, and there are millstones for defence on the sixth floor as well. The moulds on the walls of the tunnels are supposed to have been for oil lamps.

The seventh floor of Derinkuyu shelters the biggest area which is supported by three pillars. We also see a well and a church with a cruciform plan here, and the speciality of this floor is a grave room at the end of a narrow tunnel. The eighth floor of Derinkuyu has a single room and a chimney for ventilation.

This underground city has approximately 52 chimneys for ventilation and a lot of cisterns and storerooms. It is estimated that 10 000 people could have found shelter in it. Derinkuyu also has a very big church with a cruciform plan, but no paintings on the walls which could have helped to determine the exact time of construction.

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