8 Mysterious Underground Cities; Evan Andrews; History Lists

Ethiopia – Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela

There’s not much to be said for the views, but underground cities have frequently been used throughout history as wartime shelters, refuges from the elements and sacred spaces. Many even included dedicated infrastructure and their own subterranean schools and churches. From ancient hideouts to Cold War-era bunkers, explore eight astonishing settlements beneath the earth’s surface.


The volcanic rock landscape of Turkey’s Cappadocia region is pockmarked with several different underground cities, but perhaps none is as vast or as impressive as Derinkuyu. This labyrinthine complex dates to around the 8th century B.C. and was most likely built to serve as a refuge during periods of war and invasion. With this in mind, its 18-story interior was a self-contained metropolis that included ventilation shafts, wells, kitchens, schoolrooms, oil presses, a bathhouse, a winery and living space for some 20,000 people.

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