The Underground City of Ouyi

The underground city of Ouyi in Kashan

The Underground city of Ouyi, A Masterpiece of Ancient Architecture

Ouyi underground city (Noushabad) is located in the north of Kashan, Isfahan province. The city is 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. Actually, archeologists believe the subterranean structure city dates back to 1500 years ago which means the Pre-Islamic Sassanid era.

What was it built for?

Historical evidence indicates that people have used Noushabad as a shelter during the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. After that, it remained in use in emergency cases until the late Qajar dynastic period.

The construction’s purpose of the city was to allow a large number of people to hide from enemy forces over a sustained period of time. In fact, people could live in underground passages and room for several days with no need of going outside.

Architectural characteristics of Ouyi underground city

The depth of this underground city varies from 4 to 18 meters. It has three floors. Actually, the most striking feature of Ouyi 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.

Ouyi, The underground city in Kashan
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. These passages 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, it would fall. It was one of the several tricks used to resist enemies and protect people in the underground city. For example, man-holes, optical illusions, obstacles, forked paths were all strategically worked into the city’s design to trap and trick intruders.

The architects of the site had to consider so many elements to make this area habitable. Aside from ventilation, there are small grooves in the walls for fat-burning lamps used for lighting. Also, there are latrines on each floor with wastewater channels running underneath. Furthermore, there are wells with freshwater and kitchen areas, storage spaces, and bedrooms that are easily accessible.

Today, officials of the site devised two entrances at the bottom of a 16-18th Century Safavid water reservoir allowing visitors to reach the Ouyi underground city.

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