Containing churches, a winery, warehouses, and more, the Gaziemir Underground City is one of the most unique underground cities in the world. Cappadocia is one of the most fascinating places in the world, and where the hot air balloons flying high in the sky, magical landscape, and fairy chimneys are its most popular features, the underground cities attract many visitors too. All of the underground cities are fascinating and protective. You won’t see such underground cities, with such unique geological formations, anywhere in the world. Even though only 36 underground cities have been discovered, Cappadocia is said to have over 200 underground cities. Gaziemir Underground City is among the cities discovered just recently.
In late 2006, this underground city was discovered by chance, and people were able to visit it from June 23, 2007. The cleaning work was done for around 6 months. When you see other underground cities in this region, they were all built for protection, but this unique underground city was built for accommodation. Hundreds of underground cities and many roadside inns were built here, as the Silk Road passes through Cappadocia. But it was the first instance, not only in this region but the world, that an underground city was used as a caravanserai.
You can get the hint of the Hittite art from the stone overlay technique. At the entrance of the city, there is a 10-meter corridor, carved into a rock. You won’t see such an example in other underground cities of this region.
The other underground cities follow deep and narrow tunnels, but the structure of this city is different. It spans over an area of 50 square meters. It features easy entrances as well as a watchtower. The top of the city was not covered, and from its top, it has water arcs.
The city is situated in the Gaziemir Village square. If you are traveling to Gaziemir Underground City and Caravanserai from Aksaray, the total distance is 42 km, but if are traveling from Nevsehir, the total distance is 53 km.
The underground city features two churches as well as a large winery. When you explore the Gaziemir Underground City, you can tell that it was indeed a sheltering place. There are warehouses, tandoors, kitchens, and stoves of different sizes. You can also see resting places and a bath. All these things give support to the argument that this city was built for accommodation and not protection. However, this doesn’t mean that they totally neglected the safety aspect; there are hiding places leading from and to the tunnels. The city was built almost perfectly and you can tell that a proper plan was implemented when you see what they did for ventilation, lighting, and transportation. It’s amazing to think that they did all this, centuries ago, and you can’t really tell how they did it.
Even though the entrance of the city is very spacious, the churches’ entrances follow tunnels and you have to bend to pass through the tunnels. An interesting thing is that they protected the churches by every means they can, as if they were sure, they will be attacked. The churches had several columns and they were spacious, but the entrances were closed using bolt stones.
The Gaziemir Underground City dates back to the Hittite era, but the city was probably the busiest during the Byzantine period. When the city was being cleaned in 2006, they found many Byzantine coins, so there is no doubt that life existed here during that period. During the Seljuk period, the city was used as a stopover for camel caravans.
It’s the first Underground roadside-inn in the world
The underground city was the subject of the history book (published in 1974) of art historian, Ibrahim Hakki Konyali, despite being discovered in 2006. He talked about this city and called it the Gaziemir Inn. It’s amazing how late this underground city was discovered, even though the people of Gaziemir village knew about it for a long time. Due to the lack of archaeological studies, it wasn’t confirmed whether the city was an inn or not.
It was only after the camel bones were discovered that affirmed that this place was indeed built as a caravanserai. To allow the camels to pass through, connections were made between the spaces. They not only cared for the passengers, but the animals as well, and to ensure that they can rest properly, the barns were made spacious. They used wall hooks to tie the animals, and to put the bait for animals, they carved the walls. To make sure no animal remains thirsty, they created big water tanks.
Cappadocia has many fascinating features, historical places, and surprises to offer, and the Gaziemir Underground City and Caravanserai is among the latest surprises from the region. The city was also covered by the History Channel that makes documentaries related to historical events and places including underground cities.