It sounds like something out of Indiana Jones – an extensive, underground city of tunnels lit by lamps, with space for more than 20,000 people, just underneath people’s feet.
The area is famous for its stunning rock formations, deep valleys and ancient subterranean hideouts, which have been carved from malleable, volcanic ash rock.
The latest find is thought to be the biggest underground city in Cappadocia, consisting of 3.5 miles (7km) of tunnels, secret churches, tombs and safe havens. It’s truly one of the greatest architectural finds of our time.
Cappadocia is famous in archaeological circles for its large number of underground settlement. But the site, located around the Nevşehir hill fort near the city of Kayseri, appears to dwarf all other finds to date.
Workers in Turkey found the entrance to a vast underground labyrinth underneath homes scheduled for demolition in the Nevşehir fortress and the surrounding area, which was being excavated during a construction project carried out by Turkey’s Housing Development Administration.
Workers moving piles of Earth found the signs of a huge network of tunnels thought to date back a whopping 5,000 years.
The find echoes the famous discovery of another underground city, Derinkuyu, an 18-storey complex was found in the area when a man knocked down a wall in his basement in 1963. Talk about striking gold?!
The upper reaches of the city were first spotted last year but it was not until now that the size of the discovery became apparent. The organisation has so far taken 44 historical objects under preservation from the site.
The new underground city is thought be even bigger – built, like Derinkuyu, during the Byzantine era, to protect the occupants from religious wars in the region.
Derinkuyu’s residents could close themselves in using gigantic stone doors.
‘This new discovery will be added as a new pearl, a new diamond, a new gold,’ the mayor of Nevsehir, Hasan Unver, said to National Geographic.
‘When the underground city beneath Nevsehir Castle is completely revealed, it is almost certain to change the destination of Cappadocia dramatically.’
Early estimates suggest that the city, uncovered in 2012, could be one-third bigger than Derinkuyu.
Planned renovation works have been called off as archaeologists investigate the tunnels.