A 1,700-year-old underground city in the Central Anatolian province of Yozgat has come to the surface after the houses closing its entrance were expropriated and knocked down.
The excavations on the 10-room structure, believed to have been built in the early Christian era of 300 B.C. continue and eight of the rooms and the access tunnels have been cleared. The works started in the city, discovered in 2008 and declared a protected area, after the houses blocking its entrance were expropriated in 2017.
Works by the Mineral Research and Exploration General Directorate (MTS) showed that a 217-meter part of the underground city, which has eight rooms, is safe and the air inside is breathable, Demirören News Agency reported.
The two rooms of the underground city, located in the Özler village 65 kilometers away from the world-renowned Cappadocia region, were being used as pens and depots by the owners of the houses built at the entrance of the city.
Speaking at the site, Yozgat Governor Kemal Yurtnaç said the existence of an underground city in the region was a long-told tale among locals.
“We have been supporting the works here, which will significantly add to the tourism potential of the 5,000-year-old Yozgat,” said the governor.
The newly-discovered underground city is located on the route between Cappadocia and the archaeological site of Hattusha, the former capital of the Hittite Empire and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Yurtnaç noted.
“We want to create a tourism route that starts in Cappadocia, with a stop in the Özler village and the 2,000-year-old Roman bath [located in the city center of Yozgat], followed by a night’s stay in Yozgat and finally reaching Hattusha,” he said.
“What we are doing here are the infrastructure works for such a purpose. I believe that Yozgat’s significance as a tourism destination will improve in the near future.”
The 2,000-year-old “Basilica Therma” was added to the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list this year.
The excavations on the bath located in the Sarıkaya district of the Yozgat province started in 2010, which unearthed a semi-Olympic size swimming pool.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency last April, Metin Halıcı, provincial head of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, said a master plan was prepared to introduce the historical bath to international tourism.
“One of the most prominent features of the bath is that thermal water is still boiling inside. We want to present this historic, ancient thermal treatment center to the people,” he added.
The “Basilica Therma” is believed to have been built by a Roman king who lived in Kayseri.
It is believed that after his daughter fell sick the bath was built for her treatment. She was cured through the healing properties of the thermal waters, and so locals call the bath the “king’s daughter.”
During the excavations held between 2010 and 2015, many pieces belonging to the Byzantine, Seljuks and Ottoman periods were unearthed.
The largest thermal pool in the Roman bath measures 23.3 x 12.8 meters and has a depth of 1.34 meters. The temperature of the pool water is about 45 degrees Celsius.