Located in the rural town of Saratlı, in the province of Aksaray (part of the world-renowned Cappadocia region), St. Mercurius Underground City was a shelter for the early Christians who were running away from the prosecutions of the Romans.
St. Mercurius Underground City
This 3-storey underground city has dozens of rooms. The necropolis inside the church of the city contains 37 burial rooms. Unfortunately the church is appallingly damaged on account of the fact that it had been used as a shelter in the latter centuries.
The underground city complex contains 3 water wells, storage rooms a toilet, cellar, residential units. Around 250 AD, During the times in which Christianity was banned, the early Christians sought refuge here in this city and practiced their religion.
Who was St. Mercurius?
St. Mercurius, whose real name was Philopater, was a high ranked military official in the Roman Army. He had served under the Emperor Decius, and soon after due to his extraordinary skills, he was appointed a general in the army. As the historical account suggests, when Emperor Decius won a war against the Berber people, he wanted to show his gratitude to the Pagan gods by offering them fumigants, St. Mercurius opposed the emperor by saying: “I will pray to no one but my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”.
Due to his disobeyance, the emperor got St. Mercurius expelled from the army. Since he was a very respected general in the army, instead of killing him, he banished St. Mercurius to Cappadocia. Subsequently, to take revenge, the Emperor Decius sent his man to the area where the underground city is located today, and got St. Mercurius executed by decapitaion.
The underground city can be visited from 10am to 5pm in summers (1 April – 1 October) and from 8.30 to 5.30 in winters (1 October – 1 April).
The entrance fee is 12₺ and free for Museum Pass owners. If you do not know what Museum Pass is, it is a card that allows you free or discounted passage at any ancient site in Turkey that is run by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Click to see the types of Museum Pass.
Parking at St. Mercurius Underground City
Parking is free at the site. I find it useful to add that the exit of the underground city is about 150 meters away from the entrance. As a result, it is more convenient to park your vehicle to the small parking lot at the exit then walk to the entrance. Also, there are not any suitable parking spots around the entrance of St. Mercurius Underground City.
Here are the coordinates of the parking area at the exit of the city: 38.451128, 34.231510
After parking your car, make sure the parking area is on your left side and walk straight on the road until you see the signboard of the underground city.