Deep underground

Trip Start Nov 09, 2007
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The idea of an underground city captured our imaginations. First we had to get their. Starting from Uchisar, Jess was in the navigator seat to take us directly there. 'Straight on to Navsihir and then turn left' she told me. No problem. Except that when we got to Navsihir there was no left turn like the map suggested. Hmmm. We drove about 10km in pretty-much the wrong direction.
'Don't worry' said Jess. 'There are plenty of other roads to the left. Take one of those.' We took the next road on the left and headed through some very un-touristy areas. One thing I will say, no matter how small the road around here, it's sealed. We continued on for quite some time, basically hoping that we were going to end up where we wanted to be. The first town consisted of some very humble dwellings - piles of orderly rock really, with curtains in the windows. Towns so humble that they didn't even have a name. Or at least, they didn't have a sign on the road saying what their name is. I'm sure they have a name!
We came to one town and finally there was a road sign pointing us in the right direction. The only problem was, when we tried to go in that direction, the road was blocked and there were piles of rubble. I tried a different road but ended up back in the centre of town, staring at the road sign. It had started raining. A group of men stood under cover watching us going around and around. I'm sure it was the highlight of their day. At least someone was amused by our predicament. The call to prayer started from the nearby mosque and one of the men wandered over to the car.
'Derinkuyu?' I said to him.
He nodded vigorously, rattling something off in Turkish. 'Derinkuyu, Derinkuyu' he said, pointing in the direction of the road sign. So off we went to face the piles of rubble. By this stage another man was coming form the opposite direction and waved his arm in a circular motion, indicating we should take an alternative road around the rubble. Much to our relief we found the road and after a bit more driving found what we were looking for. The underground city of Derinkuyu.
Commenced almost 3000 years ago and enlarged over the centuries, Derinkuyu was developed to provide a place of refuge. In the middle Byzantine period it was used by Christians escaping from the various forms of persecution that they faced, firstly from the Romans, and later from the Arabs. It's an intriguing place to visit and we were able to descend more than 60 metres, exploring underground chapels, food stores, wineries, living quarters and various other rooms.
We also visited Kaymaki, another underground city nearby, but found that it was not as interesting Derinkuyu nor are you able to access as much of the city. Even in Derinkuyu, you are apparently only able to access about 10% of the extent of the city.
We ended our day with dinner at a restaurant that was on my list of researched places, but not on Suha's recommended list. We should have listened to Suha. Dinner was OK but nothing special, so I won't name the place.
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