Ouyi Underground city, A Masterpiece of Ancient Architecture
Noushabad underground city is located in the north of Kashan, Isfahan province. The underground city is considered to be one of the most remarkable and biggest underground cities in the world and a masterpiece of ancient architecture.
Ouyi underground city was only discovered 15 years ago in 2004. Archeologists believe the subterranean structure city dates back 1500 years to the pre-Islamic Sassanid era.
Historical evidence indicates that Noushabad was mainly used as a shelter by people during the Mongol invasion in Iran in the 13th century. It remained in use in emergency cases until late Qajar dynastic period.
The city was constructed to allow a large number of people, perhaps the entire town, to hide from enemy forces over a sustained period of time. People could live in the underground passages and room for several days without the need of going outside.
The depth of this underground city varies from 4 to 18 meters. It has three floors. The most striking of features is the sophisticated air conditioning system, which keeps the three floors cool and ventilated. Different levels of this city were connected to each other through vertical and horizontal canals.
In order to reach the underground city, there were several different openings. Some of these openings were located inside the houses of people while others were located in important gathering places such as the main fort just outside the city. Except for the main entrance, all the other parts of the city were about 170-180 centimeters in height.
Another interesting feature of their architecture was the curvy passages that made it possible for the inhabitants to ambush enemies. They would dig deep holes in the middle of the rooms and cover them so if anyone stepped on them, would fall. It was one of the several tricks used to resist enemies and protect people in the underground city. Man-holes, optical illusions, obstacles, forked paths were all strategically worked into the city’s design to trap and trick intruders.
A lot of thought appears to have gone into the design to make it inhabitable. Aside from ventilation, there are small grooves in the walls for fat burning lamps used for lighting; there are latrines on each floor with wastewater channels running underneath; there are wells with fresh water and kitchen areas, storage spaces and bedrooms are easily accessible.
Today two entrances have been created at the bottom of a 16-18th Century Safavid water reservoir allowing visitors to reach the underground city.