About 35 km south of Göreme, Turkey is Derinkuyu, a small city with a fascinating history. At the southern end of town is the entrance to the 6th century underground city, which is the largest in this area. There are at least 130 more underground cities in Cappadocia, about 30 of which are open to the public. For a general map of the area, click here.
These underground cities were built to provide protection for the Byzantine Christian villagers during raids by the Persians and Arabs in the 6th and 7thcenturies. Derinkuyu housed 10,000-20,000 people, plus all kinds of animals during periods of raids (up to 3-4 months at a time). It has 8 levels, most of which can be visited. Features include air shafts, kitchens, a well, baptistery, church, confessional and rolling stone doors to seal off lower sections in case of invasion.
Going down into this carved-out city was fascinating; however I cannot imagine living down there for months as the Byzantines did with thousands of people on top of each other with animals, a graveyard, and all the associated issues of waste, water, fires, air, food, and just about everything we take for granted. Coming back up to the surface must have been a very joyous occasion!
The entry fee is 15 TL per person and parking was 2 TL per car (1.80 TL per 1 USD). Allow about 2 hours for a visit to this fascinating site.