Which Turkish Underground City –  Derinkuyu Or Kaymakli

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Post author Enes

Written by our local expert Enes

Originally from North Macedonia, Enes is a well-traveled enthusiast residing in Türkiye. He combines his extensive knowledge and avid wanderlust to bring you insightful narratives of his Turkish adventures.

Do you need to choose between Derinkuyu Or Kaymakli? Deciding on which Turkish underground city to visit in Cappadocia is made easy with our guide.

Turkey Travel Blog_Which Ancient Turkish Underground City Is For You - Derinkuyu Or Kaymakli

The Cappadocia region of Turkey is full of natural and artificial wonders. It offers you a once-in-a-lifetime experience discovering authentic cuisine, rich culture, and ancient underground cities. If you’re into history and architecture, this region is a must-see.

Unfortunately, it is always a tough choice to decide whether to visit Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı since both underground cities have similar qualities. But don’t worry; we prepared the perfect guide to help you choose between Derinkuyu Or Kaymakli. Keep reading to learn which underground city in Turkey is the best for you.

The Lost City Of Derinkuyu

Derinkuyu Underground City, Cappadocia Turkey
Derinkuyu Underground City, Cappadocia Turkey

Derinkuyu, located in Cappadocia, is a deep underground city believed to have been in use from the 7th to the 12th century AD and is one of the most complex and ancient underground cities in Turkey.

The city is situated approximately 60 meters (about 197 feet) below the surface, with a labyrinth of tunnels, rooms, and staircases. Visitors can explore the ancient underground tunnels connecting various levels, rooms, and even a church. There are ventilation shafts that serve to provide fresh air to the inhabitants.

Derinkuyu’s underground structure is impressive. Its early inhabitants built the city as a refuge to accommodate up to 20,000 people in times of crisis, invasions, and war. One of the most remarkable things about Derinkuyu is how well-built and extensive it is.

Why You Should Visit The Underground City Of Derinkuyu

Ancient Underground City in Cappadocia - Derinkuyu

There are many reasons to visit Derinkuyu; some of them are:

  • Impressive underground architecture: The city is situated approximately 60 meters (about 197 feet) below the surface and includes a labyrinth of tunnels, rooms, and staircases. The intricate underground structure is impressive and a must-see for those interested in architecture
  • Guided tours available: If you want to immerse yourself in the history and atmosphere better, you might prefer a guided tour. Visiting the area with a guide enhances the experience and provides detailed information about the history and architecture of the city
  • It’s open all year round: Derinkuyu is open to visitors all year round, making it an ideal destination for winter or summer trips. Especially visitors who don’t want to wait in long queues might consider visiting the area in winter, which is also an opportunity to witness the scenic winters of the inner Anatolian region
  • The largest underground city in the region: Derinkuyu is the most significant and biggest underground city in Cappadocia. It was an important location for its ancient inhabitants as it was a refuge during war and invasion

Reasons Not To Visit Derinkuyu Underground City

Ancient Cave City in Cappadocia - Derinkuyu

Although it’s a unique experience, visiting Derinkuyu might also have its cons. Some of them are:

  • Limited accessibility: The city is underground and may not be accessible to those with mobility issues. Plus, don’t forget that to explore Derinkuyu, you’ll have to walk through narrow corridors for a long while, which might be a tiring experience
  • Crowded: Since it is the most famous ancient underground city in Turkey, Derinkuyu is often crowded. Therefore, it might be an uncomfortable experience to visit the city during the peak season

Nearby Attractions From The City Of Derinkuyu

Zelve Open Air Museum - Houses carved into the rock in Zelve. Turkey
Zelve Open Air Museum

The vicinity of Derinkuyu is home to many unique attractions and monuments. After exploring the ancient underground city, you might want to discover the rest of the region. Here are some of the nearby attractions that you should visit after Derinkuyu:

  • Ihlara Valley: Ihlara is a picturesque valley near Derinkuyu known for its natural beauty and historical significance. Visitors can hike along the valley and explore the numerous rock-cut churches and frescoes. Plus, if you are a nature enthusiast, Ihlara valley offers an outstanding experience with many different animal species and endemic greenery
  • Zelve Open Air Museum: An open-air museum featuring ancient houses, old churches, and a unique geological formation known as the “fairy chimneys”. Find your guide to Zelve Open Air Museum here ↳ 
  • Avanos: Avanos is a historic town near Derinkuyu, historically known for its pottery and ceramics. The area still makes some of the most authentic pottery in the whole of Turkey. You can explore the traditional workshops and studios at Avanos and even try your hand at pottery

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Ancient Underground City Of Kaymaklı

 Derinkuyu Or Kaymakli - Ancient Underground cities in Turkey - Kaymakli

A picturesque town in the Cappadocian region, Kaymaklı is known for its spectacular nature and ancient underground city. Kaymaklı underground city is slightly younger than Derinkuyu and housed a thriving population from the 8th to the 13th century AD. Kaymaklı is considered one of the most well-preserved underground cities in Cappadocia.

The city includes a large underground chamber, which was a meeting place or a place of worship. Typical of underground cities, it hosts various accommodations and churches. 

Unlike Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı has a steeper architecture with narrower streets. The underground city was a refuge for local Christians in times of war, invasion, or crisis until the population exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1923.

Why You Should Visit The Ancient City Of Kaymaklı

Kaymakli - Ancient Underground cities in Turkey

Besides its location near a cute town in the middle of Cappadocia, there are many reasons to visit Kaymaklı:

  • A Rich Complex: Kaymaklı underground city is a rich complex that includes breweries, churches, supply depots, accommodations, and narrow streets. The city differs from Derinkuyu in terms of architecture
  • Open all year round: Like Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı is also open to visitors all year round, making it a perfect destination for a winter or summer trip. This is also an excellent opportunity for visitors who want to avoid the huge tourist crowds that fill the area in summer
  • Well-preserved: Despite being abandoned for a century, Kaymaklı underground city is one of Cappadocia’s most well-preserved underground cities

Reasons Not To Visit Kaymaklı Underground City

Kaymaklı is definitely a must-see, yet if you have to decide between Derinkuyu or Kaymakli, you should know that Kaymaklı has some cons that might affect your decision:

  • Not for People with Claustrophobia: It’s common sense that people with claustrophobia might have an unpleasant time in an underground city. However, Kaymaklı includes narrower passages, which makes it a worse experience for claustrophobics to be there
  • Not As Large As Derinkuyu: Despite being one of the most well-preserved underground cities, it’s not the largest. Kaymaklı is a smaller underground city compared to Derinkuyu. The small size makes the city much harder to visit during the shoulder season when the area is crowded with lots of tourists

Nearby Attractions From The City Of Kaymaklı

Cappadocia Red Tour Vs Green Tour - Pigeon Valley
Pigeon Valley

If you just finished exploring Kaymaklı and want to see some other attractions nearby, here are the top highlights in the area:

  • Selime Monastery: a large rock-cut monastery that is located on the slope of a mountain and features impressive architectural elements such as a cathedral, a refectory, and living quarters for the monks
  • Pigeon Valley: a picturesque valley that is named for the thousands of rock-dwelling pigeons that call it home. The valley offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and is a popular spot for hiking and photography. Find your guide to Pigeon Valley here ↳ 
  • Uchisar Castle: is a natural fortress located on the highest point in Cappadocia; it offers a panoramic view of the region; it is also known as the “Acropolis of Cappadocia”

So, do you now feel ready to choose between Derinkuyu Or Kaymakli? No matter which underground city of Turkey you choose, we are sure you’ll be astonished. 

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