Cennet ve Cehennem Çökükleri

Heaven and Hell Pits - Cennet Cehennem - Narlıkuyu Magarasi

Useful Information

Location: Atakent, near Narlıkuyu. 21km east of Silifke at the coast road. 1km from Hasanaliler, Içel. (
Open: All year daily 8-19.
Classification: ExplainKarst cave
Light: electric.
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.
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Cennet Cehennem (Heaven and Hell) are two dolines, located very closely, near the small fishing village Narlıkuyu. They are cultic places since prehistoric times.

The Greek believed this to be the place where the giant Typhon lived, who was killed by Zeus, with the help of Pan and Hermes. Typhon was father to the hellhound Kerberos. So this place was also said to be the entrance to the underworld. However, it is not the CaveKorykian Cave which is mentioned in the same rather complicated legend. That cave is located in central Greece.

Cennet Çökügü (Heaven) is a huge pit 250m long, 110m wide, and between 60 and 70m deep. Quite a strenuous visit, as it is entered on a limestone staircase of 426 steps. The floor of the pit is full of trees with birds nests. Cool air announces the cave entrance, which is also the place of a 5th century cave church, or better a cave chapel, which is ruined with only the lower metre of the walls remaining. This cave leads to an underground stream of cold water, which the path follows to a sump.

Cehennem Çukuru (Hell) is located 75m northeast of Cennet. It is 60m wide and 120m deep, an almost circular daylight shaft. Because of its lesser diameter it is said to be smaller, but it is much deeper and obviously was rather frightening for the locals. This may be the reason for the name hell, and obviously the chapel is the reason why the other pit is called heaven in contrast. It is also possible to visit this pit on a steel ladder, but this is rather dangerous and not recommended for the average tourist.

300m to the southwest of Heaven is the Astim - Dilek Magarasi (Asthma and Wishing Cave), also called Narlıkuyu (Pomegranate Spring). This cave is well developed and lighted and the most easy to visit of all three caves. It shows impressive speleothems, like stalactites, stalagmites and all forms of calcite crystals. The cave is 250m long and 10 to 15m wide and high. This main passage leads the visitor to four huge chambers and many small side passages. The air of Dilek Magarasi is thought to be a cure for asthma, so the locals used it for therapy. This seems to be a traditional use of speleotherapy.

But even more interesting than the caves is the karstic phenomenon of submarine sweet water springs in the bay of Narlıkuyu. The bay with its small restaurants and cafes looks like all the others, but when you first put your feet into the water you will see that it is much colder than what one expects from the Mediterranean Sea. Sometimes you may even see locals bending over to actually scoop up and drink the seawater. Cold karst water, sweet water from the cave systems behind, wells up from the floor of the bay, dropping the temperature and creating pools of fresh water in the sea. The water is the same you have seen as a cave river at the end of Cennet.

At the entrance to the bay are the remains of a 5th century Roman bath. Even the people of that time knew about the value of those springs. Most impressive is probably a mosaic on the floor depicting three bathing nymphs who smile at us across the centuries. Its the reason why the bath is called Kızlar Hamamı (Girls Bath). They only wear a necklace, which