Cities, empires and religions have risen and fallen around these unique underground havens once used by early Christians to hide from Roman armies, yet they remains occupied to this day – 100 square miles with 200+ underground villages and tunnel towns complete with hidden passages, secret rooms and ancient temples and a remarkably storied history of each new civilization building on the work of the last.
The fields of architecture and urban design would do well to center their sustainable sights on this unique site – few structures outside of this area in Cappadocia have survived for so long. Some of these buildings go up to five full stories underground and date back to Roman times or beyond, though many caves were carved out by human hands long before their empire arrived. (Images via AlaskanDude)
The fantastic rock formations used as shells for these dwellings date back millions of years, and much of the more recent architecture has survived for hundreds or even thousands of years – despite being laid siege to many times over and housing everything from armies to explosive weapons factories.
Centered in modern day Turkey, this region has passed between hands many times. The contemporary residents speak a hybrid of Greek and Turkish and, unsurprisingly, bus tours, hotels and other visitor-oriented services comprise much of their current economic system Built up over time for defense as much as shelter, narrow passageways have made it notoriously difficult for invaders to penetrate the perimeters of many of these underground cave complexes.
In part due to their secret locations and the naturally temperature-controlled nature of the cave interiors, many religious artifacts and artworks have survived for over a thousand years. All the while, surface structures have been erected and destroyed while modern architecture mixes in strange hybrids with historic temples and above-ground houses.
While many buildings remain occupied, many more are now deserted – from homes to entire churches and underground cathedrals. For all we know, some rooms and structures are forever lost and buried, hidden so well they will never be found again. (Images via Mekiares)