Every year a great number of people visit the St. Mercurius Underground City that’s one of the many underground cities in Cappadocia. The city is located in central Aksaray province’s Saratli town. This city is truly a fascinating place for people who are interested in learning about history and it offers them a mystical trip in history.
St. Mercurius was a commander who was born in 224 AD in the Cappadocia region and died in 250 AD. The Roman Emperor Decius banished him to Cappadocia after he declared himself a Christian in front of him. Later, he was executed at the command of the emperor Decius. After that, the early Christians, who were suffering from the persecutions of the Romans, used this place as a shelter.
Excavations were carried out in the underground city from 2011 to 2016. The city is most likely to have seven layers. Three floors were cleaned and you can visit them. The city is still being studied. It’s a bit upsetting that we could only see less than half of this mysterious and beautiful underground city. But, we are hopeful that one day, very soon, we will see the whole city. As we said, the city is visited by many tourists every year, mainly attracted by mass graves, floor furnaces, and its church.
The church in the city is similar to a cathedral, which is interesting because, generally, the churches in the underground cities are small. To enter the city, you have to go through an inn, which was established during the Seljuk period. When you are in the city, you can go to other floors via chambers and corridors.
Near the entrance, lies a cemetery. You get a deeper experience when you get the knowledge that there are around 37 graves, which have people buried in them. If the graves make you uncomfortable, you should know that the graves have been shifted, because more research was required.
A corridor lies after the cemetery that takes you to the common living areas. The city has intact gates, which is probably its most important feature. The city has very heavy millstone-shaped doors that are in excellent condition. The very large and strong doors and are placed one after the other. A chain of doors means, if you pass one door, you will be greeted by another.
There is also a 24-meter-long tunnel. The length is mentioned in the information sign at the entrance. They have done good work on the tunnel, and you can tell that from the directions and lighting system. The city also has an emergency exit sign; we can’t recall any other underground city where we have seen such a sign. The tunnels connect the 40 rooms and there are several places that you can visit. Inside these places, there are rooms, toilets, kitchen, worship areas, water well, and many other parts.
Another notable feature of the city is a long climbing chimney. Through this climbing chimney, you can get to the upper floors. Such structure can also be seen in Gaziemir Underground City and Selime Cathedral. Many underground cities have these structures only for safety purposes. They also found storage jars in the city.