Ancient Cappadocia rock courthouse waits to be discovered
In Cappadocia, which is known for Turkey’s fairy chimneys, valleys covered with natural rock formations, historical monasteries carved into rock and underground cities, as well as a variety of cultural and historical richness, also has some structures that are unknown due to a lack of promotions.
The Dungeon Hill, which is one of these structures and located in Ortahisar town of Ürgüp district of Nevşehir, is aimed to be added to an array of tourist hotspots.
The carved structure, which was coincidentally discovered in 1998 during works carried out to open the entrance of a cave in the field, consists of a courthouse, spaces for judges and jury, rooms with stone beds where prisoners were incarcerated, meeting and execution rooms and graves. All these places are connected to each other through tunnels.
The construction date is unknown due to a lack of inscription, but is believed to have been built in the 4th or 5th centuries. It reveals that social life had continued intensively in the region about 1,500 years ago and that there was an effective struggle against crime and criminals.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Ortahisar Mayor Mustafa Ateş said that they initiated work for the area to get its share from tourism, and he explained that the area, some of which was destroyed by treasure hunters, was taken under protection and cleaned by local facilities.
Stating that there are many different structures carved into rock in Cappadocia, Ateş said, “There are no inscriptions on the Dungeon Hill. Based on its architectural structure, it is thought to have been built in the 4th or 5th centuries. The most interesting part is that there are 18 rock-carved tombs, one of which is about three meters high. It is rumored that headless skeletons were found by treasure hunters here during the excavations in the past. Therefore, it is thought that guillotine executions were performed here.”
To ensure that the area can be visited by enthusiasts, Ateş said that the area will be promoted in tourism fairs at home and abroad.
Ateş said that people in the Cappadocia region created many places for themselves by carving fairy chimneys and tuff rocks in the past.
“The Dungeon Hill is one of the rare rock-carved works in the region. It was discovered in 1998-1999 during the cleaning work. Inside, there are separate and independent sections such as the judicial chambers connected with tunnels, the rooms where the prisoners were located, the galleries where the visitors from outside were kept, and the graves. The ceiling of the courtroom has collapsed over time, but the rooms of the judge and the court committee are still in place. We introduce this exhibition in domestic and foreign fairs. As the municipality, we started promotional activities for the Dungeon Hill. At the same time, this place is an indication that justice has been manifested in these lands for many years. There are many monasteries, underground cities, chapels and churches in Cappadocia but there is not a courthouse carved out of rock,” he added.