This story has a particular beginning. The owner of a house in Turkey was chasing his chickens. They, fleeing, found a saving hiding place: a hole in the basement wall. In order to get them out, the man decided to do some renovations. He ended up knocking down the wall. Thus he discovered the city hidden under a cellar.
There hid Elengubu, an abandoned subway city about 2,000 years old. Today it is known as Derinkuyu. It is more than 85 meters below the Cappadocia region in Central Anatolia. It is the largest excavated subway city in the world. It is believed to be connected to more than 200 other smaller subway locations.
Inside the city researchers found 18 levels of tunnels. There are dwellings, dry food stores, schools, warehouses and even a chapel. There is a ventilation system that provided its residents with a constant flow of fresh air and water.
“Life underground was probably very difficult,” say the researchers. “Residents relieved themselves in sealed earthen jars. They lived by torchlight and disposed of corpses in designated areas.”
Ancient writings dating back to 370 BC indicate that Derinkuyu already existed. It was used as a bunker to escape foreign invaders. That would explain why the corridors had so little light. They were narrow and low so that intruders had to enter in line.
The doors connecting to each level were blocked by rocks. They weighed half a ton and could only be moved from the inside. They contained a small hole that allowed the residents to pass through the confined intruders. The Hittite people, who inhabited the Bronze Age region of Anatolia, would have been architects.
“They could have excavated the first levels in the rock when they were attacked by the Phrygians. It was around 1200 B.C.,” it states. The city hidden under a basement was a great hiding place.
The Phrygian invaders were an Indo-European speaking empire that ruled Anatolia for 600 years. They are credited with building most of the city. Derinkuyu changed hands several times, including among the Persians, Christians, and Cappadocian Greeks.