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Choosing Between Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı: A Travel Guide to Turkey's Underground Cities

A Travel Guide to Turkey's Underground Cities

"Derinkuyu vs Kaymaklı: Choosing the Best Underground City in Cappadocia"

The Cappadocia region of Turkey is renowned for its magnificent scenery, extensive cultural heritage, and the extraordinary architectural wonders of its ancient underground cities. For history and architecture enthusiasts, visiting this region promises a journey through time and an exploration of human ingenuity. The challenge, however, lies in selecting which underground city to explore: Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı. Our thorough guide aims to help you with making an informed decision.

With a profound knowledge of Turkey, We provide insightful narratives from extensive travels nationwide. The expertise shines through in the detailed exploration of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı, offering a deep dive into these ancient sites' history, architecture, and unique features.

Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı at a Glance!

Embark on a journey to the heart of Cappadocia with Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı, Turkey's most impressive underground cities. These ancient marvels, carved from volcanic rock, showcase the ingenuity of past civilisations. Derinkuyu delves deep into the earth, featuring extensive tunnels and rooms, while Kaymaklı offers a complex maze of passages, each with its purpose. Together, they reveal the fascinating story of societies that thrived below the surface. What to know before visiting Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı? Discover the depths of human resilience and architectural brilliance in Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı at a Glance.

The Enigmatic City of Derinkuyu

Derinkuyu is an intricate underground metropolis extending approximately 60 meters below the surface. It showcases a complex network of tunnels, chambers, and staircases, offering a glimpse into a bygone era. The city was a sanctuary for up to 20,000 people during periods of crisis, showcasing remarkable engineering and a testament to the resilience of its ancient inhabitants.

Why Visit Derinkuyu

  • Architectural Mastery: The city’s extensive underground design, featuring a myriad of tunnels and rooms, is a marvel of ancient architecture.
  • Guided Insights: Opting for a guided tour enriches your experience, providing a deeper understanding of Derinkuyu's historical and architectural significance.
  • Year-Round Access: Open throughout the year, Derinkuyu offers a unique destination for both summer and winter explorations.
  • Historical Significance: As the largest underground city in Cappadocia, Derinkuyu served as a crucial refuge, reflecting the site's strategic importance.

Visiting Derinkuyu is a unique experience, but there might also be drawbacks. Among these are the following:

  • Limited accessibility: Due to its underground location, the city may not be reachable by people with mobility impairments.Also, exploring Derinkuyu will require you to walk through cramped passageways for a considerable time, which could get old fast.
  • Crowded: Turkey's most famous ancient underground city, Derinkuyu, is often filled. Therefore, travelling to the city during the busiest time of year could be uncomfortable.

The Preserved City of Kaymaklı

Kaymaklı, with its remarkable preservation, is a testament to the ingenuity of its builders. The city’s structure is characterised by its steep, narrow architecture, offering a unique perspective on the lives of its ancient inhabitants, who sought refuge here during turbulent times.

Why Visit Kaymaklı

  • Rich Historical Tapestry: Kaymaklı’s complex includes essential facilities, such as breweries and churches, within its narrow passageways.
  • Impeccable Preservation: Among the underground cities of Cappadocia, Kaymaklı stands out for its preservation, offering an immersive historical experience.
  • Accessibility All Year: Like Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı welcomes visitors throughout the year, presenting a splendid opportunity to explore without the crowds of peak tourist seasons.

While Kaymaklı is a must-see, you should be aware of the following drawbacks of Kaymaklı that may influence your choice between it and Derinkuyu:

  • Not for People with Claustrophobia: Someone with claustrophobia would not enjoy living in an underground city.But there are smaller passageways in Kaymaklı, so being there is worse for claustrophobics.
  • Not as Large as Derinkuyu: Kaymaklıis not the largest underground city, even though it is one of the best preserved.In comparison to Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı is a smaller underground city. During shoulder season, when the city is packed with tourists, its small size makes it much more challenging to visit.

The Distinctive Essence of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı




Depth and Scale

The deepest underground city, about 60m deep, with 8 accessible levels.

It is less profound and more widespread, with 4 accessible levels featuring a more horizontal layout.

Unique Aspects

There is a vertical staircase connecting levels, a spacious church on the lowest level, and large communal rooms.

More straightforward navigation, broader corridors, well-preserved kitchens, storage areas, and wineries.


It is ideal for those interested in extreme ancient engineering. And depth.

Suitable for visitors focused on social and cultural aspects Of ancient living or those preferring less physically demanding explorations.


It offers an adventurous exploration into the depths of human ingenuity.

It provides a comprehensive glimpse into daily ancient life, with easier access and less physical challenge.

Visitor Type

Adventure seekers and depth enthusiasts.

Cultural explorers and casual visitors interested in ancient daily life.

Architectural Design and Layout

  • Derinkuyu: Known for its extensive network and depth, Derinkuyu is remarkable for its large communal rooms, religious spaces, and intricate ventilation shafts designed to support a significant population underground.
  • Kaymaklı: While not as deep as Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı features a more compact and efficient design, with narrower passageways and a focus on residential and communal spaces, reflecting a community-oriented approach.

Historical Significance

  • Derinkuyu: Served as a formidable refuge, equipped to protect and sustain its inhabitants with everything from livestock pens to wine cellars, showcasing a comprehensive approach to communal living and defence.
  • Kaymaklı: Emphasizes the everyday aspects of life, with areas dedicated to wine production, storage, and worship, providing insights into the daily routines and spiritual practices of its people.

Visitor Experience

  • Derinkuyu: Offers a journey through an expansive underground network, ideal for those interested in exploring ancient civilisations' architectural and engineering marvels.
  • Kaymaklı: Provides a more intimate glimpse into the life of its ancient residents, suited for visitors keen on understanding historical communities' social and cultural dynamics.

Discover More in Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı

Nearby attractions in Derinkuyu:

  • Ihlara Valley: Ihlara is a charming valley close to Derinkuyu, well-known for its natural beauty and historical significance. Hikers can stroll along the valley and discover the many churches and frescoes carved into the rock. For those who love the outdoors, Ihlara Valley provides a fantastic opportunity to see various animals and endemic plants.
  • Zelve Open Air Museum: An outdoor museum showcasing historic homes, churches, and the unusual geological structure known as the "fairy chimneys." 
  • Avanos: Discover the traditional workshops and studios in Avanos and even try your hand at pottery-making. Historically recognised for its pottery and ceramics, Avanos is a historic village near Derinkuyu. The area continues to produce some of the most authentic pottery in Turkey.

Nearby attractions in Derinkuyu Kaymaklı:

Here are the top attractions in the area if you have finished exploring Kaymaklı and want to see some more nearby:

  • Selime Monastery is a sizeable rock-cut monastery that lies on a mountainside. Refectories, living quarters for the monks, and a cathedral are among its remarkable architectural features.
  • Pigeon Valley: The name Pigeon Valley comes from the thousands of pigeons perched on the rocks in this charming valley. The valley is well-liked for hiking and photography, providing expansive views of the surroundings.
  • Uchisar Castle: Known as the "Acropolis of Cappadocia," Uchisar Castle is a natural fortress perched atop the highest point in the area and provides a panoramic view.

Making Your Choice

Both Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı offer unique insights into ancient life and architectural brilliance. Your choice may depend on specific interests such as architectural complexity, historical significance, or the desire for a less crowded experience. Regardless of your decision, both cities promise an unforgettable journey into the heart of Cappadocia’s past.


Can you visit Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı year-round, and what are the best times to avoid crowds?

Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı are open to visitors throughout the year, offering a unique experience across different seasons. However, to avoid crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons, typically spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). These periods offer milder weather and fewer tourists, allowing for a more leisurely exploration of the cities.

How should one prepare to visit these underground cities, and what are the essential tips for a memorable experience?

Preparation for visiting Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı includes wearing comfortable walking shoes due to uneven and sometimes slippery surfaces. Bring a light jacket, as temperatures underground can be cool, regardless of the season. Opting for a guided tour can enrich your visit with historical insights and stories. Lastly, consider the physical and mental readiness for navigating tight spaces to ensure a comfortable exploration of these ancient marvels.

By understanding the unique characteristics, accessibility considerations, optimal visiting times, nearby attractions, and preparation tips for Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı, visitors can make an informed decision and enjoy a fascinating journey through these ancient underground cities of Cappadocia.

How much time should I allocate to visiting each underground city?

To fully understand the intricacy and splendour of Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı, you should allocate at least 2-3 hours for your visit. This allows you enough time to explore the key features of the cities, take photographs, and absorb the historical context without rushing. If you're particularly interested in history or architecture, you might want to spend more time delving into the details.

Is photography allowed inside Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı?

Photography is generally allowed in both Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı for personal use. However, it's important to respect any specific restrictions that may apply to certain city areas. Flash photography might be prohibited to preserve the integrity of ancient frescoes or other sensitive features. Always check for signs indicating photography rules or ask your guide to ensure you comply with local regulations.