In an unassuming corner of Turkey lies some of the renowned underground cities of the past. Cappadocia, a World Heritage Site in central Turkey, has been a popular hideout for those looking to escape religious persecutions and invasions. A hot air balloon ride over the rocky landscape is as fascinating as exploring the intricately carved hiding places (made out of soft volcanic rock), man-made caves, escape routes, temples, and frescoes in cave chapels. The already famous land of Turkey's best-kept secrets got another shot in the arm following the latest discovery of a 5000-year-old subterranean metropolis. It has certainly dwarfed other underground cities in the Nevşehir province.
Here's a list of 8 facts you might not know about this new found fascination of the archeologists.
#1. This subterranean city was accidentally discovered during an urban renewal project. The workers came across cave entrances and hand-carved chambers beneath a hilltop fortress of the Byzantine era. According to historical documents, the region was home to around 30 major water tunnels.
#2. Archeologists are of the opinion that the newly discovered underground metropolis in Nevşehir province could be the largest underground city in the world. It is believed to be 30 per cent larger than Derinkuyu – the 18-story underground city that could once accommodate around 20,000 inhabitants.
#3. The tunnels that run through the city are 7.5 km long. While most tunnels are believed to have been utilized for transporting agricultural products, one of them reaches out to a distant water body. Some of the tunnels are so wide that a car can be driven through.
#4. Excavations have led to the discovery of around 44 artifacts. From pots and pans of the late Roman era to the pipes and oil lamps of the Ottoman era, some of the remnants of past have been recovered. In fact, one seed oil processing unit has also been discovered along with chapels and wineries. The discovery of ceramics, grindstones, and stone crosses is an enough indication that this erstwhile city was very much in use during the Byzantine and the Ottoman era.
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#5. If the researchers at Nevşehir University are to be believed, the newly discovered subterranean city is as big as 86 soccer fields. This historic city has a total area of about 460,000 square meters.
#6. It is arguably the deepest underground city in Cappadocia. This 113-m-deep city eclipses the reputation of the Derinkuyu underground city that runs as deep as 60 meters.
#7. Swiss Author Erich von Däniken, who has written extensively about extraterrestrial influences on ancient human culture, is planning to write about the new discovery in his upcoming book.
#8. Once the underground city is revealed in its entirety, it is likely to be converted into “the world's largest antique park” with designated walking trails taking the visitors to art galleries, museum, and boutique hotels.