Carved entirely out of a solid stone bed, The Underground City of Nushabad (Noosh Abad), also known as Ouyi, is an astounding highly–advanced example of ancient architecture dating back over 15 centuries.
Located approximately 10km away from Kashan , the remarkable legend, continues to bewilder its unsuspecting visitors. The intelligently designed city was created to provide shelter for the local Persians during foreign attacks and invasions.
Archeologists have dated the origins of the underground city to be from the Sassanid Era (224-651 CE). Come along with goingIRAN to learn and discover more about one of Iran’s most historical ancient sites!
Nushabad City’s Underground Persian History
Recently discovered a little over a decade ago, the Underground City of Nushabad does, indeed, have an interesting history to itself. Just like many other ancient sites in Iran, Nushabad reveals yet another fascinating aspect of ancient Persian culture to its visitors.
The history of the architectural marvel begins with the order of a king from the Sassanid Dynasty. Passing through the area, the king had a drink from the local well and was surprised at the extremely light and clean water quality.
He then gave orders for a city to be built around it; originally called Anoushabad (the city of refreshing cool water). The underground section of this city was built for two mains reasons. To escape the heat during the daytime and even more importantly invaders during attacks.
Some 1,500 years ago, the city of Nushabad was known to be an insecure region at the time, and complex underground hideout and series of passages was the perfect thing to protect its inhabitants.
The Aspects of Nushabad under the Microscope
The subterranean city is comprised of a series of three intricate canals, each accessed through vertical wells, leading in different directions. Originally, they had multiple entry points throughout the entire city; located inside specific houses and main public areas.
The three floors of refuges were not accessible to one another. The purpose of this design was to ensure the safety of the other shelters, if one of them were to be compromised.
Although a convenient staircase has been created for tourists to more easily enter, in the past you could only get-in one person at a time. This tight squeeze upon entry was to prevent invaders from rushing the refuge while carrying weapons. Tourists can currently visit two of the three canals at Nushabad.
The depth of the 170 – 180cm-wide canals are between 4 to 18 meters in various parts of the three floors. Along the carved-out pathways are various rooms and dug out ledges where people could sit/sleep. The first floor is 4 – 6 meters, the second 4 – 12 meters and the third 18 – 23 meters deep underground!
Legend has it that the city of Kashan was known to ‘disappear’ whenever an invasion was taking place! Having a total span of 4 square kilometers, there was definitely no shortage of space!
Due to its tremendously clever design, this amazing concealed hiding place could house a great number of families at a time. People could easily survive without even coming up to the surface for days on end, providing they had enough food with them.
One of the features that makes this attraction truly fascinating is its advanced ventilation system. It was built in such a way that numerous people would have no trouble breathing fresh air even at 18 meters below the surface!
Curvy pathways made it easy for the refugees to ambush unsuspecting invaders around corners. In addition to these defense mechanisms, it’s worthy to mention that these passageways were also riddled with booby traps! Moving stones and hidden trap doors on the ground took care of the unbriefed attackers in the dark! Very Indiana Jones-esque.
One of the last known defense mechanisms of this city was a verbal code. Whenever you were to go through a passageway, they would have to say ‘Ouyi’ (pronounced ooh-we) as a confirmation that they are a local. Not saying this special word would put you in serious risk of getting killed as they would be assumed to be an invader!
When in Iran, and especially Kashan, we recommend that you absolutely do not miss seeing this attraction! As long as you aren’t claustrophobic, goingIRAN suggests this ancient underground city to be on your top destinations in your travel to Iran!
Relive the long passed days of the ancient times when spine-chilling invasions took place; rushing down the wells and hiding with your closest loved ones by your side… This mysterious place of antiquity is sure to induce such extraordinary viewpoints in any travellers that visit it!
Good to Know While Traveling to Ouyi (Underground City of Nushabad)
Currently there are two open entrance ways to the underground city; one of which is only open on Fridays. For this reason, goingIRAN suggests that travelers and tourists try to visit this destination on a Friday.
However, if you find yourself at Nushabad on any other day, make sure you hold on to your ticket. Presenting this ticket on any Friday for the next year will give you access to the second entrance! (Solar year)
The main entrance is supposed to be open all days of the week, except for 5 days during Ramadan (Tasua, Ashura, Arbaein, Rehlat-e Imam, and Imam Hossein’s Martyrdom). No need to panic if it’s closed upon your arrival, all you need to do is call either Mr. Navaabi at (+98) 937-673-8855 or Mr. Makaari at (+98) 913-657-6487 and they will open it for you!
Also no need to worry if you’re traveling without a guide, as both Mr. Navaabi and Mr.Makaari speak English and can guide you. If there’s no one there upon your arrival, still no need to panic. The sale of tickets and tours of Nushabad’s underground canals are all done by one person and so if he’s not there, he’s performing a tour for the previous group. Just hang around he he’ll be back for you soon!
Please note that there is currently no ATM card reader at this destination, so make sure you have enough cash on hand. The entrance cost is 200,000 IRR or approximately $5.80 USD (Oct, 2017).
This site is open seven days a week from 9am – 7pm.
Recommended Reads | Internet Access in Iran
Recommended Reads | Credit Card in Iran (Tourist Card)
City/Town: Nushabad / Kashan
Street Address: The underground city of Nushabad, Maelian St., Imam khomeyni St., Shohada Square. Nushabad road.
Operating Days: Every day
Operating Hours: 9am – 7pm
Typical Price: 200.000 Rls. (20.000 Tomans)
Neighbourhood: Anoosh café
Relation Post: Naghsh-e Rostam