Yekedeshik Cave City


Useful Information

Location: North of Tagtabazar. Near Mary, Tagta-Bazar region
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



Yekedeshik is an underground city, a series of passages and chambers dug out of the soft sandstone. The name is based on an old Turkish word meaning single orifice, describing the fact that the whole city has only one single entrance. The origin of the city and its age are unknown, but it is generally assumed to originate from the 14th or 15th century.

There is a local lore telling the caves were once 50 km long and were dug by the army of Alexander the Great for unknown reasons and later used by the locals as dwellings. Actually there are so many things which are charged to Alexander, that we guess he lived some 500 years to be able to do it all during his lifetime. Another story tells the cave was once big enough to allow two caravans of camels going through the cave in two lines. This would also require a second entrance. Another legend tells the caves were created by Jinns.

The cave city has two levels. The upper level is a 37 meters long corridor ending at a niche which resembles an altar. To the left and right are 44 rooms of rectangular shape, some walls are furnished with shelves. One of the rooms is exceptional, it has an almost quadratic floor of 3.2 m by 3.3 m and a spherical ceiling, divided into four segments by ribs. The ribs have reliefs and the central drum has a cylindrical form with an inserted fake window. On the lower floor the people collected water. The passages were carved out of the sandstone using axe-like tools.

S. Khmelnitsky, who explored the city, suggested it was once a monastery. Similar complexes are known from other countries, where they are either Buddhist or Christian monasteries. Similar caves can also be found across the border to Afghanistan, which are generally thought to have been used as Buddhist monasteries. According to archaeological excavations people started to use caves for living during the first century BC in this area.