Can you imagine inheriting a property only to find it’s the gateway to an underground historic city?
That’s what happened to Mustafa Bozdemir. A 50-year-old father of six who was living in France when he was informed he’d inherited a property in the Melikgazi district of Turkey. He travelled to Turkey to have a look around the single-storey house.
Once he saw it was single-storey and could be doing with more space, he decided the wise thing to do was to renovate it. After all, he did have a family of six so space was needed.
The logical place he thought he’d start was the basement. Mustafa thought beneath the house there could be some additional storage space added to the property, even if it was just a small area for storing food.
What he discovered nobody could be prepared for.
The Single Storey Dwelling had Something Peculiar Going on in the Basement
Mustafa brought in Nuvit Bayar of Guntas, a restoration company in Turkey to oversee the restoration work of the single-storey building.
The more it was cleaned, the more was discovered. After reaching four different floors to the building during cleaning, it was clear that this single-storey property dated back to the Roman era. Knowing what he’d discovered, he had to get the necessary permissions to go any further.
Mustafa notified the Culture and Tourism Directorate and the Kayseri Governor’s Office of his findings, and got the permissions he needed to continue working on the property.
It took a team of ten to manually remove the soil and rubble. Once that was done, there was 2,500 square meters of cleaning to be done. A lot more than the initial extra storage space he was looking for.
The findings during the excavation were astronomical. The team were cleaning the thousands of square meters under the building and finding human remains that could date back centuries. A team from the Erciyes University began examining the remains found.
80,000 Euros later…
Mustafa has spent 80,000 Euros excavating the site. Guntas’ team of ten had manually removed over 100 trucks filled with soil from beneath the building. The journey has so far led to the discovery of a loft and an iron workshop, with multiple magnificent structures emerging around the underground city.
Permissions have been granted to continue the excavation. The hope is that the current 4,000 square feet discovered of the city so far, will lead to an area that connects the new discovered city to already discovered underground cities, villages, and tunnel towns scattered throughout Turkey.
Turkey is the City of Mystery
Lurking under most of the Cappadocia region of Turkey are over 200 underground cities. In ancient Roman times, thousands of Turks lived underground. The areas underground were used as a defense during times of war. Throughout the regions underground areas there are massive stone walls that could be rolled to block off tunnels preventing any invaders getting in.
There’s also iron workshops, schools, areas of worship, secret rooms galore, hidden passages and even ancient temples.
It’s a massive tourist attraction, which is why Mustafa has received funding of around $420,000 to continue the site’s excavation.
The local Mayor hopes the discovery will lead to links to the surrounding areas of Gesi, Turan, and Zincidere.
Can the New Old meet the Ancient Underground Cities Already Found?
The largest underground city in Anatolia, Turkey is Derinkuyu. That has eleven floors to it. There are over 600 entrances with tunnels spanning miles throughout it.
Derinkuyu is one of the largest underground cities in the world. This new discovery may just expand its already massive size if a tunnel, corridor or secret passage can be found to link to it. Inside the city, thousands of people can be accommodated. Livestock too. The subterranean cities around Turkey are a gateway to the country’s history, dating back centuries.
Mustafa is hoping that once the excavation of the site is complete, it’ll be able to become another tourist attraction. Around the Cappadocia region there are hundreds of underground areas, but due to safety reasons, much of them are inaccessible.
In fact, there have only ever been six underground cities open to the public. Those are Tatlarin, Derinkuyu, Ozkonak, Mazi Village, Kaymakli and Gaziemir.
Should the site be successfully excavated and safe for public use, the new discovery may just become somewhere tourists will be able to visit and explore all the findings that are now being discovered.
Everything from ancient tombs, artifacts, the stone carvings from the Bronze age and Byzantine period.
That’s a question nobody has the answer to but it is speculated that every region around Cappadocia has access somewhere to the underground network of tunnels.
In ancient times, these were used as places of safety. If Turkey was to be invaded, the people would escape to the underground tunnels and reach the cities and villages. Each floor of all the underground areas can be closed off. There are also traps that were used in ancient times as a method of defense.
People could live underground for a long time, as all the amenities and facilities were there. There are chimneys installed for ventilation, communal toilets, food storage areas, and areas to keep cattle. All the entrances, like the one discovered by Mustafa Bozdemir, start off narrow and gradually broaden as it reaches the living areas of the cities and villages scattered around and linked together.
As of yet, there’s no linking tunnel or passageway discovered that connects the newly discovered ancient underground city to the surrounding network of underground areas.
As the excavation continues, there may well be. And, provided the area is safe for exploring, it could be opened to the public to explore another one of only a handful of existing underground sites in Anatolia open for public access.