Underground Bayburt city draws tourists
A 3,000-year-old underground city dating back to the late Byzantine era in Turkey’s northeast has been experiencing a growing interesting, an official has said.
The site was visited by 15,500 tourists in 2018, a number considerably high for Turkey’s least populated province of Bayburt, where the underground city was found by chance more than two decades ago.
Bearing the name of the district where it is located, the Aydıntepe underground city stands out as an important historical site in the district.
Located 2 – 2.5 meters under the surface, the ancient city was found by chance during a construction work in 1988. It consists of galleries, rooms and larger areas connected to these rooms which were carved into the bedrock without any building materials.
The rooms, measuring two meters by one meter, open into larger galleries, which in turn open into halls running in both directions.
There are cone-shaped holes believed to have been used for observation or air circulation in the ceilings of the over one-kilometer-long galleries.
The city under the houses, shops, and streets of Aydıntepe district center fascinates the visitors with its thousands of years of mystery.
“How the bedrock was carved to form that work of art and how this structure was made with human labor astonish people today,” Mustafa Akın, the Aydıntepe district governor, told Anadolu Agency.
Akın invited all citizens to visit the subterranean city to witness its beauty. He added that the discovered area was “only the tip of the iceberg.”
“Detailed research is ongoing for this. There are rumors that the Aydintepe underground city reaches Bayburt Castle from here.”
The underground city is located some 25 km northwest of Bayburt.
Akın said the provincial directorate of culture and tourism is carrying out research to find out how far it goes and more details of the story of the site.
He said the current discovered route would be covered in 15 minutes, adding: “Inside is shorter than a human height, and sometimes you need to bend down. The 800-meter area that is open now is located under the district center. This is the area we discovered coincidentally during a construction excavation.”
He said the rest of the place needed to be searched with geo-radar systems.
Akın emphasized that there was no problem with the durability of the subterranean city as it was carved by hand, but some measures were crucial to protect it.
“Now, a protection plan is being prepared,” he said, adding that the routes covering the underground city on the earth were going to be reconstructed after the approval of Erzurum Regional Council for Cultural Heritage Preservation.
The wall figures and tombs found inside the city are believed to date back to the late Roman and early Byzantine period.