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Özkonak Underground City

Özkonak Underground City is a quaint underground settlement located near the village of Özkonak (15 kilometers north of Avanos). The site is pleasant to visit because it is clean, well-developed, and usually empty of tourists.

Özkonak Underground City, a main room

Site Overview

Byzantines likely developed this underground settlement in the 600's and 700's. During this time, they fortified and militarized the Cappadocian region against Arab incursions. There is no evidence for any precise date, so the site could have been started centuries before the Byzantines and expanded by each successive generation of residents.

The site extends down 11 floors, though only 4 floors are open to the public. The only room on the first floor was an animal barn. A doorway from the back corner of this entry room connects to other rooms.

Like other underground settlements, Özkonak includes a water well, ventilation system, wine presses, and rolling stone doors. One of Cappadocia' largest stone doors (nearly 2 meters tall) is located here. The large floor holes near the exit were used for food storage.

One unique feature of the Özkonak Underground City are small holes, about 5 cm wide, above the passage ways. These could have been used for communication purposes, or to attack intruders with boiling oil or spheres.

Modern History

Around 1970 a local man named Latif Acar discovered the Özkonak Underground city by accident. He was walking around his fields to learn why his irrigation water was disappearing. Instead, he discovered a large underground chamber that was part of the settlement.

The Turkish government recently developed this site for tourism. They constructed a beautiful entrance building with shops. Unfortunately, their philosophy of "If you build it, they will come" has yet to materialize. Few people visit this underground city.

Modern Entrance to Özkonak Underground City

In terms of academic research, there are no publications about the underground settlement in Özkonak.


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