NEVŞEHİR – Anadolu Agency
A monastery hewn from the rock has been found during excavations and cleaning works in an underground city that was discovered in 2014 in the Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir during a Turkish Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) urban transformation project.
Excavation and cleaning works have been continuing on an area of 400,000 square meters that includes 11 neighborhoods around Nevşehir Castle, which is situated in the city center and has been declared a third-degree archaeological area.
At the beginning of the year, a historic church was discovered in the underground city. The church features frescoes depicting the ascension of Jesus to heaven as well as other important objects for the Orthodox
community. There are also frescoes showing the apostles, the saints and prophets Moses and Elijah.
The latest discovery is a monastery carved from the rock that may date back to the fifth or sixth centuries.
Nevşehir Mayor Hasan Ünver said the discovery of new places in the underground city had provided great excitement to academics and archaeologists.
The discoveries have already begun to draw foreign and Turkish academics, as well as documentary makers, to the region. “Works in the field may result in things that are very important in the history of humanity,” he said.
Ünver said the first cleaning of the monastery was continuing. “Sensitive cleaning will also be made. We also find various objects here and deliver them to the museum.” Entire field taken under protection
The mayor said the underground city covered a very large area and that some parts of it would open to visits next year.
The excavations have so far revealed oil factories, water ways, common areas, an underground church and horse stables used by old armies, Ünver said.
“When works first started in the field with TOKİ, nobody knew that there was an underground city. When this place is cleaned, we will open all of the findings to tourism. We are very excited about the works. In further stages, the most famous restorers of Turkey and the world will work here. Some parts of these places will open to tourism next year. We have brought the entire area under protection. As cleaning work is done, it will be partially opened,” the mayor said.
Archaeologist Semih İstanbulluoğlu, who is closely following the works in the underground city, said they were very excited at the discoveries of the rock-hewn church and the monastery.
İstanbulluoğlu said the newly discovered complex likely dated from the fifth century. “We will see what we find in the next stages. The history of this place is very old. If we can find evidence from the Hittite era, we will make a great contribution to Nevşehir’s history.”