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As you approach Derinkuyu, you'll see signs from the underground city off to the left. If you need to use the bathroom, do so at the public bathrooms located just to the right of where you enter the city as there are no places to go down below. When you first enter, you'll quickly get used to the low ceilings and tight spaces as you'll have to squeeze your way into the first level that contains a stable and some living quarters. As you continue your exploration, you'll see a few kitchens which are fairly obvious because of the dugout area used for cooking (they used human feces as fuel) and the blackened walls from the smoke. You'll also see a winery with an area the contained the grapes, which were trampled and the juice was allowed to drain into large collection pots. There is also an interesting church made by the early Christians that is easy to identify because of its cross shape.
The word "Derinkuyu" means deep well and it's easy to see why when you look down into the wells that were dug along with the ventilations shafts, some as deep as 80 meters. There are a number of escape shafts as well, many of which have circular stones like the one you see pictured here. These stones could easily be rolled so that they blocked the small passageways from anyone pursuing the fleeing party. It's hard to forget when you're down here that this place was built to escape from enemies. As fascinating as the place is and as ingenious as it is, I still wouldn't want to live underground without seeing the sun for months on end. Still, it's amazing that people way back then were able to build these cities so reliably that they never collapsed and that the ventilation systems were so flawless that they still work today.
Updated May 17, 2008
If you're claustrophobic, don't even attempt to got down into the dark, tight spaces of the underground cities. Derinkuyu is an amazing place and very fun to explore, but passageways are often tight, single-file, and low. If you're here early enough to beat the tour groups, you might find it tolerable, but if not, I'd stay away if you don't like tight spaces.
Written May 17, 2008