I can’t say that I ever heard anyone talk of visiting the underground city in Derinkuyu before we set out on this adventure around Turkey. So my reluctance to pay a guide to take us around was abated by the information he provided us. One of the largest underground cities was uncovered in Derinkuyu and has 8 level below the earth where the villagers in the Byzantine times would spent up to a month at a time hiding from possible threats from foreign armies. These underground cities were built with cleverly constructed ventilation shafts that allowed the city to stay cool during the summer and warm during the winter, showing that their level of scientific understand was well beyond what we could have imagined.
There were additional shafts built to allow animals to get into the city and stables and other holding areas to keep them safely tethered underground when necessary. Small escape staircase the size that only children could fit in were built-in case they should be discovered and would allow for the children to leave easily without treat of being followed.
In the food storage areas large circular holes were constructed as a precise debt and width that would allow food to stay cool and fresh for a prolonged period of time should they need to take cover for longer than expected. Small alcoves along the wall showed where oil would be stored to ignite as lighting until they ran out. While we were going further and further underground there was no indication that they air was becoming heavy and unbreathable. A strong indication that they knew exactly what they were doing and these vents worked wonders.
At strategic points throughout the city circular doors of stone, that could only be opened from one side, were in place to block out any unwanted visitors. They were so well prepared for underground living that even a school was a build below the earth to allow life to go unhindered while they were below the surface. Wine storage showed us how the people dealt with the darkness and depression that might come with shutting yourself away from the world for weeks at a time. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in an underground city like this. It’s sophistication astounded me and made me eager to learn more about this civilization.
As we emerged from the dark city a stand selling pomegranate and orange juice caught our eye and we were in for a delicious treat. With a heavy-duty press two women were serving fresh juice outside out their souvenir shop for a few Turkish lira. It was a great thirst quencher after the dryness of being underground for an hour.
Another restaurant has caught our eye earlier with an elder lady sitting on a table rolling out dough for fried “quesadilla-like” meals of cheese and spinach. We had to try some, it smelled so amazing and she looked expert. After the crowd died down the young, son of our chef, I would imagine, became the entertainment teaming up with one of his mates to play Turkish tunes for the on looking shoppers and dinners. We got so much culture out of this short visit!
Our next stop of the day was back in Goreme, at the Zelve Open Air Museum, unlike our previous experience this was very well kept and had more restrictions to our going around. We were allowed to climb into everything but we were restricted by the 4pm closing time and forced to only cover half of what we would have liked.
We decided to visit some of the more touristic spots while we had the time. There was a sad camel that I wished to set free, some small building to climb into, and rock formations that resembled animals. We encountered many more people here than in the rest of our travels, but were still able to climb in most of the structures.
The one of the places that we could climb served as a climbing lesson for MM. She got up, but couldn’t get down. So close by so far away from the ground. I understand that fear.
Last stop of the day was dinner with our new Turkish friend at his restaurant. We had meals cooked in a clay pot that we broke open after they were cooked. After dinner the chef came out and played us some song on the guitar and sang along. We did some Turkish dancing and a bit of music playing ourselves. A very lovely end to the night, as the only guests in a well-liked restaurant. What a jam-packed day!