Each modern society is more concerned about what happens above the ground. The overwhelming majority of all the cities are noisy cosmopolitan centres for business and commerce transactions. Very rarely, is at all, a human being can think of what is going on beneath the ground, just underneath people’s feet, under all those streets that are walked each day by the growing number of humans. However, that is not just a solid ground there but the whole systems of linked tunnels, hiding places, and even buildings. All is located completely below ground. Some of them are extremely old, ancient, others – quite modern, however, all can be considered fascinating and worth careful studying.
Underground city is a row of subterranean spaces which are connected with each other in order to form a place for living, shopping, working, or even serve as a defensive refuge. Underground cities play a very important role in countries with very cold or very hot climates. Nowadays, the most well-known underground cities can be called Montreal’s RESO (twenty miles of tunnels) which is also the largest underground location that uses a lot of people, and Toronto’s PATH, which is truly considered to be the world’s largest shopping centre in the underground network. The most extensive underground ways are considered to be those in Japan which occupy the area of 900, 000 square metres (Twyman, Metzger 2005).
Underground cities can be found in a large number of countries worldwide (Newitz 2011): Turkey, the United Kingdom, Jordan (Petra city which was carved in rock in the second century by the Nabataeans), the United States (Leavenworth in Kansas located beneath the streets), Ukraine, South Korea, Italy, Hong Kong, Mexico, Poland, Switzerland, Thailand, Spain, France (Barry Troglodyte Village where people live for several hundreds of years, also carved in the rock), Australia, Chile, Argentina, China (Beijing’s underground city built during the Cold War to protect citizens from possible nuclear attack), Finland, Greece, Germany, Singapore, Russia, the Netherlands (a new project in Amsterdam that will start in 2018 aims at building an underground city of the future that will go under the canals), Iran, Japan as has already been mentioned, Gibraltar, Canada (Moose Jaw town that is located under the streets of Saskatchewan with a range of shops, homes, factories, and even speakeasies), etc (Golany, Ojima 1996).
More than 200 underground cities that contain at least two levels have been discovered between Kayseri and Nevsehir, Turkish cities. About forty of them have a minimum of three and more levels. They also include Cappadocia which contains several towns that were carved out of special geological formations that were created by the eruptions of the volcanoes thousands years ago. At their foundation, cities were inhabited by Hittites who lived between 1700 and 1200 BC. However, later the Christians came and the cities went into recession becoming just hiding places. Kaymakli, underground connections in Istanbul, and Derenkuyu are not less well-known historical places (Twyman, Metzger 2005).
Derinkuyu, which will be the main discussion point of this paper, is a very old multi-level underground city that dates back to the Median Empire in the area of the Derinkuyu district, Nev%u015Fehir Province, Turkey. This city had five floors which extended deep down the earth to a depth of about 60 m, which was large enough to give shelter to around 20,000 people including food stores and people’s livestock. Derinkuyu is considered to be the largest excavated city under the ground in Turkey and is one of the major underground complexes that were found across Cappadocia (Underground Cities, n.d.). Derinkuyu was first opened to multiple visitors from across the whole world in 1969 and today the bigger half of the city is still accessible to tourists.
This underground city can be closed from the inside with the help of large doors made of millstone. The doors, therefore, were extremely heavy (up to 500 kilograms) and completely blocked the entrance for the possible enemies. Usually, they were one to one and a half metre high, and fifty centimetres wide (DeLiso 2009). The whole city comprises a total of thirteen floors. Astonishingly, but each floor can be closed off separately.
Derinkuyu used to have all the useful amenities that were discovered in other underground cities across Cappadocia. For example, oil and wine presses, tombs, missionary schools, cellars, stables, refectories, kitchens (they are still black from the soot of fires on which ancient people cooked their food) storage rooms, and even chapels and whole churches (one of them, for example, had twenty by nine metres with a ceiling over three metres high). The city greatly benefitted from being built around the underground river (Fuller n.d.).
On the second floor of the Derinkuyu complex is located a spacious room, unique for the whole area that has a barrel vaulted ceiling. There is a belief that this room served as a religious school and all the rooms to its left were real studies. A vertical staircase is situated between the third and fourth levels. Such passage way connects with the cruciform church on the fifth, lowest level (DeLiso 2009).
The extensive ventilation of a fifty-five metre shaft had been used at those times as a well. In general, fifty-two wells were discovered. Moreover, the shaft provided water to both people who lived in the villages above and, in case of inaccessibility of the outside world, to those who were hiding.
According to the Turkish Department of Culture, Derinkuyu was first built from the soft volcanic rock of the region of Cappadocia , probably by the Phrygians in approximately the eighth–seventh centuries B.C. It is supposed that this underground city was enlarged in the Byzantine era. Derinkuyu also performed a function of a refugee settlement during the Persian Achaemenid Empire. In the province of Nev%u015Fehir there are some other underground cities with a deep historical meaning, and Derinkuyu is also connected with Kaymaklli with the help of an eight kilometre tunnel that was often used. (Turkey’s Incredible Lost Underground City 2010).
In the second chapter of the book “Vendidad”, there are some references to such underground refugee settlements which were built by the Persian king Yima. Therefore, a lot of scholars stick to the opinion that Derinkuyu might have been constructed by the Persians (today’s Iranians). The city was linked with other underground cities by means of miles of tunnels (Turkey’s Incredible Lost Underground City 2010).
Some artefacts which were discovered in this underground city belong to the period of Middle Byzantine, dating back to the fifth and the tenth centuries A.D. Because of this, it is also believed that a good number of such underground settlements, mostly used for serving as a refuge and also for religious purposes, increased greatly during this era.
The underground structures and cities are usually carved out of some unique geological formations. These cities might have also been used as unknown to everyone else but its inhabitants hiding places during the times of raids. Nowadays, all of them are archaeological touristic attractions. Of course, they remain now unoccupied.
However, despite a wide variety of historical underground networks, modern technologies and needs develop extremely costly and technically complicated structures that are aimed to facilitate transportation (like underground railway or subway), protect from floods (like Tokyo flood prevention system which will be discussed below) or catacombs to mine the ores or hide from bomb attacks or other threats.
For this paper, the Tokyo underground network was chosen in order to show that the underground life which has been shrouded with mysteries since the ancient times, and historians still prefer come up with some conclusions that make people’s blood curdle, still is so very similar to what existed thousands of years ago, despite the changed looks, super-modern constructions, and automatic systems.
The Tokyo underground system has been a disputable issue for many knowledgeable people and even more discussed by common citizens. It is an extremely vast subway system, also subterranean shopping arcades which look like whole cities and kilometres of tunnels for pedestrians. Tokyo's underground city-like area is a real hot point of human activity as well as a fertile soil for mysteries and intrigue. These mysteries are quite important in order to understand properly the function of the underground expansion of the city as well as other problems it tackles.
The Tokyo subway system is considered to be the most highly used transportation system in the whole world. About eight million passengers use it each day. The Tokyo subway consists of thirteen lines which are run by two main operators (Toei and Tokyo Metro). From about 300 stations which compose a 300-kilometre network, only few are covered with mysteries. For example, the Kokkai-gijidomae station which is situated in central Tokyo, next to the National Diet Building.
Two other lines – the Chiyoda and Marunouchi lines – stop at the Kokkai-gijidomae station. The line platform of Chiyoda is located approximately thirty-eight metres underground which makes it the deepest station in the whole network of Tokyo Metro (even despite the fact that many Toei Oedo Line stations go even deeper into the ground). According to some data which is quite rumour-like, the underground network was a major air raid shelter before the decision was made to turn it into a subway station during the 1950s. The depth of the station and its very close location to the Building of Japanese Parliament caused a lot of speculations that it was initially designed to serve as a nuclear fallout shelter (Secrets of the Tokyo Underground n.d.).
The Kokkai-gijid%u014Dmae station is also believed to contain a secret door that links directly with the basement of the neighbouring House of Representatives Annex Building. Moreover, old construction blueprints of the line platform of Chiyoda purportedly show one more level which lies even deeper underground. The existence of such hidden floor apparently became a platform for some special trains that can help governmental officials out of the city in case of some major disaster.
The National Diet Building as well as the Kokkai-gijid%u014Dmae station is supposed to hide important secrets which can make the citizens of Tokyo look differently at their leading top or at least give them a good insight into their city, and therefore, country’s life which no one suspects of. There are some researchers who state that the building contains at least five underground levels (the public knows about the existence of only one of them) (Secrets of the Tokyo Underground n.d.).
Other nearby government buildings are also believed to be sitting on top of secrets. The Prime Minister's residence, for example, is suspected of having five levels underground, as well as a tunnel linking it to the Diet Building.
Moreover, there is believed to be the whole network of tunnels which connects important governmental buildings in central part of Tokyo. The oldest of them is an underground tunnel which links the old Tokyo building of the Central Post Office with Tokyo station. This passageway, which was used for mail transportation back and forth between different buildings, was built in the beginning of the twentieth century, just before the Ginza line opened in 1927. Similar tunnels are thought to exist between government ministry buildings in %u014Ctemachi, Nagatach%u014D, Marunouchi, and Kasumigaseki as well as the very significant for Japanese people place Hie shrine and a marvellous architectural wonder Imperial Palace (Secrets of the Tokyo Underground n.d.).
This network of secret passageways is also considered to include the National Diet Library, which contains approximately twelve million periodicals and books on eight underground levels. The levels are not allowed to be accessed by the general public, and many journalists have constantly been denied access to the lower floors on multiple occasions, which led to various suspicions that the library has a lot to hide.
According to the website of the National Diet Library, the stacks were constructed underground in order not to ruin the surrounding landscape. Moreover, underground stacks are regarded as more energy-efficient, cost-effective, and thermally stable, as well as not so vulnerable to earthquakes which are very common in the Japanese territory (Secrets of the Tokyo Underground n.d.).
On the other hand, another source of rumours is the %u014Cedo line, which makes a forty-kilometre loop around the whole city and intersects each other subway line in Tokyo. The known fact that the %u014Cedo line's thirty-eight stations are located as deep as forty-eight metres in the ground has led to thoughts that they are designed specifically to serve as nuclear fallout shelters. And no wonder for such thoughts, actually, as Japanese people know better than any other nation what it is to be faced with the nuclear bombarding.
One of the famous Japanese journalists, Shun Akiba, who has already published several books which document the mysteries of the Tokyo subways, claims the %u014Cedo line passageways existed long before the government decided to make public subways out of them. Shun Akiba states that the passageways are a part of a huge subterranean complex which was constructed after the World War II in preparation for another nuclear attack (Secrets of the Tokyo Underground n.d.).
No one can state for sure that this statement is true, however, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is well-known for its constant maintaining of several emergency warehouses at the line stations of %u014Cedo. These warehouses are fully stocked with supplies and food to be used in case of a major disaster which has already shaken the country several times by now. One of such warehouses is a 1,480 square metre area which is located 20 metres beneath a sidewalk in the city of Tokyo.
Other warehouse locations are kept secret on purpose in order to prevent the situation when in case of disaster people would start gathering at the sites of their location, however two are sure to exist at Kiyosumi-shirakawa and Azabu-j%u016Bban stations (Secrets of the Tokyo Underground n.d.).
In addition to prove the possible existence of these hiding tunnels, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has conducted certain disaster drills exactly on the subway line in 2000. The government presented, among other things, how troops of Ground Self-Defence Force can use the %u014Cedo line in case of a major emergency. "Big Rescue 2000" exercise has also demonstrated a special %u014Cedo line train which transferred troops from Nerima ward to a special area in Shin-kiba (located near Tokyo Bay). Such behaviour of the government only fuelled the suspicions that the line was specifically built for disaster and military relief purposes (Secrets of the Tokyo Underground n.d.).
Furthermore, there is one more line, the Y%u016Brakuch%u014D line, which is also thought to have been built first of all for military purposes. Such thoughts arose from the fact that all key military facilities are situated at a number of stations on this line, for example Ichigaya as well as Wak%u014D, Nerima, and Heiwadai which are all near military bases. Moreover, the station of Inariyama-k%u014Den, that on the line of Seibu-Ikebukuro, an extension of the line of Y%u016Brakuch%u014D, is near Air Base of Iruma (Secrets of the Tokyo Underground n.d.).
One last fact shows that Y%u016Brakuch%u014D line trains are also designed to transport military personnel and supplies between these sites in case of necessity. It is worth to mention that the passageways have very high ceilings, which leads to a great deal of speculation that they can be used as emergency underground roads for armoured vehicles and trucks.
The multiple reports from media and researchers who are also trying to shed some light on these mysteries have also considered the existence of some secret government base situated beneath Sh%u014Dwa Memorial Park in western Tokyo, Tachikawa. Nonetheless the government has presented no official comment on such reports; the statements seem to be quite credible due to the fact that the Memorial Park is situated near the Wide-Area Disaster Management Base of Tachikawa, which is supposed to function as a governmental backup site in a case of emergency. Moreover, the Yokota Military Air Base of the United States is also situated in the proximity (Secrets of the Tokyo Underground n.d.).
In conclusion, I would like to say that we made a long trip to the earliest times of the humans with their sophisticated architectural underground cities like Derinkuyu, saw the development of these huge shelters through the times, and ended up with observation of the reflection of those cities, however, in the perception of our contemporaries. People still try to use the subterranean tunnels to make their lives safer, fuller, and more spacious, as if proving that people never change who they are inside and always maintain comparatively the same values.