Turkey is a country of bountiful cultural and historical experiences. While most might think of the fusion of East and West in art, architecture and culture above ground, the earth itself has some stories to tell too. Through the shifting sands of time, rolling waves or the trickle of inland lakes, vast networks of caves formed. Some have lain untouched for centuries, whilst others provide a fascinating insight into our ancestral past through art and artefacts left behind. Stalagmites and stalactites, secret pools and unchartered rivers will amaze and delight even the most experienced traveller. Here are the most fascinating caves of Turkey!
Witness of History: The Karain Cave
Located in Antalya, the Karain Cave is the largest cave to have been inhabited in Turkey. The cave provides fascinating insights into the lives and structure of ancient settlements along the Western Mediterranean. With the remains of plants, animals and as the site of oldest known human remains in Anatolia, the cave is one of the most important Palaeolithic centers for Anatolian and Near East history.
Artwork found within the cave system point to settlements from the Lower Palaeolithic to the late Roman period and have helped to fill in significant gaps in Anatolian archaeological studies. Come explore this ancient cave for yourself!
Mysterious Healer: The Damlataş Cave
The Damlatas Cave, close to Alanya on the Mediterranean coast was discovered by accident. Workers were laying dynamite for the construction of the Alanya Pier and chanced upon this beautiful stalactite cave. The cave, 30 m in length and with a total area of 200 sq meters, has many mysterious properties.
The Damlatas Cave has become a noted natural healing destination. No matter the season, the temperature remains a balmy 22’. Asthma sufferers in particular flock to the cave for some respite. The constant warmth, high humidity and high concentration of carbon dioxide (8-10x higher inside the cave) are believed to help to ease symptoms.
Whether you’re looking for some natural healing or simply seeking to explore this beautiful cave, Damlatas Cave is sure to delight and amaze.
Mirror of the Earth: The Çal Cave
The Çal Cave in Trabzon is considered being the second longest cave in the world. It is stated that its accessible area is approximately 8 km, while a small stream flows inside and there is a historical castle above it. The amount of water inside the cave varies seasonally. While the water depth reaches 50 cm in rainy periods, it goes down to 25 cm in the dry season.
After entering the cave, it divides into two branches. The branch to the left is about 150 meters long. The accessible part of the right branch is about 400 meters. There is a small lake and waterfall after about 60 meters. The cave; thanks to its natural shapes, is a 400-meter trail. It provides a sense of walking in a valley despite it being underground.
Deep and Alive: The Ilgarini Cave
The Ilgarini Cave, at 250 meters below sea level in the Black Sea region of Kastamonu, is the 4th deepest cave in the world. To get the cave itself, visitors must trek along a steep path for approximately 2 hours. As you descend into the Ilgarini Cave, you’ll be met with a truly amazing example of a ‘living’ cave, with stalagmites and stalactites stretching from floor to ceiling, growing and changing as they age.
In addition to the magnificent rock formations, Ilgarini Cave features traces of human life dating as far back as 2000 BC. Chapels, tombs and cisterns from the Late Roman and Byzantine periods dot the 858 m of cave.
3 Thousand Year-Old: The Oylat Cave
Three thousand years ago, the natural occurrence of the Oylat Cave was completed and became rather touristy. With a total length of 665 meters, it is considered to be Turkey's second largest cave. Located in Bursa’s İnegöl district, this 40-story building is found after a long and admirable journey. It takes approximately 16 years to form 1 inch of stalactite and stalagmite inside!
The Oylat Cave is also home to a rich community of creatures, including bats, millipedes, butterflies and worms. The temperature of the 665 meter cave never changes. It is 18 degrees in both summer and winter, with 90% humidity. Don’t be surprised if you feel a significant wind on your face, while strolling through narrow galleries and passages connecting the halls and floors in the cave. :)