Underground City of Nūshābād

Under Ground City of Nooshabad - Ouee - Ouyi


Useful Information

Location: Nushabad, 10km north of Kashan, west of Aran va Bidgol.
(34.080000, 51.437500)
Open: All year daily 9-13, 15:30-19:30.
Closed on national holidays.
[2020]
Fee: Adults IRD 200.
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaUnderground City
Light: electric
Dimension: VR=18m.
Guided tours:  
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Underground City of Nushabad, Tel: +98-031-5482-5850.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

6th cty city excavated.
1920s abandoned and forgotten.
2004 city rediscovered.

Description

the Underground City of Nushabad (also written Nooshabad or Noosh Abad) is a three level underground structure which qualifies as an underground city. There are chambers, air ducts, staircases, canals, storage spaces, toilets, and booby traps. It was built during the Sasanian Empire (Neo-Persian Empire) which existed from 224 to 651. It was most likely built as a hideout for women, children, and the elderly in the event of an attack. At this time the region was insecure, suffering from raids. It was in use during Seljuk and Safavid periods, at least until the Qajar era (1789–1925). The city was completely forgotten until an inhabitant of Nushabad was digging a sewage ditch in the basement of his home.

The actual name of the city was Ouee or Ouyi. Originally the city had openings to the basements of several houses and other entances were located in important gathering places. Quite interesting is the fact that the upper levels can only be reached through the lowest level. The size is given as four square kilometers, which means that the underground tunnels cover an area of this size. It is said to be the largest underground city in the world. However, there is no official list of underground cities and so far we were not able to collect reliable data. So we can only accept the statement of the operator.

The tunnels are rather spacious, even modern people can walk without stooping. The entrances, except for the main entrance, have a height of 170-180cm. The air ducts in the city are connected to the surface and the qanats creating a continuous ventilation. The fresh air from the qanats is cool and humid, providing a natural air conditioning. In the main passages there were niches for lamps every meter, which provided sufficient light for the public space. Some of these lamps were found and were dated to be more than 700 years old.

The site has two official entrances which are both not original entrances. One was dug through a historical water cistern in the city center. They are only 120cm high and require stooping, we are actually at a loss why they made them so low. The first level and some parts of the second level were developed for visitation. The site is registered on the Iran National Heritage list.