This article first appeared in Metro.co.uk and is written by Rob Waugh
It sounds like something out of The Lord of the Rings – a huge, underground city of tunnels lit by oil lamps, with room for more than 20,000 people, just underneath people’s feet. But a vast subterranean city has just been uncovered in Cappadocia – completely by accident.
Workers in Turkey found the entrance to a vast underground labyrinth underneath homes scheduled for demolition in the city of Nevsehir. Workers moving piles of Earth found the signs of a huge network of tunnels thought to date back 5,000 years.
The find echoes the famous discovery of another underground city, Derinkuyu (pictured), an 18-story complex was found in the area when a man knocked down a wall in his basement in 1963. The new underground city is thought be even bigger – built, like Derinkuyu, during the Byzantine era, to protect the occupants from religious wars in the region.
Derinkuyu’s residents could close themselves in using gigantic stone doors.
“This new discovery will be added as a new pearl, a new diamond, a new gold,” the mayor of Nevsehir, Hasan Unver, said to National Geographic.
When the underground city beneath Nevsehir Castle is completely revealed, it is almost certain to change the destination of Cappadocia dramatically. Early estimates suggest that the city, uncovered in 2012, could be one-third bigger than Derinkuyu.
Planned renovation works have been called off as archaeologists investigate the tunnels.