Yarımburgaz Mağarası

Useful Information

Location: Altınşehir, Güvercintepe, Başakşehir, Istanbul.
(41.075258, 28.741593)
Open: closed.
Fee: closed.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: Upper Cave: L=52 m, A=18 m asl.
Lower Cave: L=500 m, A=11 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
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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1920 archaeological excavation.
1980s systematic archaeological excavation financially supported by the National Geographic Society.
1988 closed with iron bar gates.
2001 declared an archaeological-nature reserve of first grade.


Yarımburgaz Mağarası (Yarimburgaz Cave) are actually two small caves which were used as shelter by prehistoric man and are of great archaeological importance. They are located in the city of Istanbul in the suburb Başakşehir, only 1.5 km west of the Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadyumu.

Unfortunately the most important thing which can be said about this caves is that they greatly suffered from their prominent location. The cave is an important fossil site which has been researched by archeologists, paleontologists, geoarchaeologists and biospeleologists. While the scientific exploration started in the 19th century, a thorough archaeological excavation took place in the 1980s. The resulting publications during the 1990s made the caves known and they became quite popular. People went there to picknick, but also treasure hunters, illegal explorers, amateur speleologists and archaeologists, frequented the site. In the 1980s the caves were closed with iron bar gates during the excavations, which remained afterwards. Because of neglect by the respective authorities, the gates were never maintained or repaired and soon were broken. The caves were littered and used by drug users and prostitute, the cave walls painted and scratched with graffiti.

Destruction has obviously some history at the caves. There was even an attempt to establish a mushroom farm inside the cave. The mouth of the cave was enlarged to allow entry of a grader to level the floor. Since the 1970s frequently movies and tv shows were filmed in the caves. For a science fiction movie, a large pool was built inside the cave, which was then detonated by explosives. For a comedy series fire was set in the cave to depict hell. For another series historic frescoes on the cave walls were scratched off and removed, and some of them were painted over with exit signs.

This cave definitely makes our unofficial top ten list of most severely harmed caves. As a result of proximity to a big city, too much publication, grief, and destructive behaviour ingrained in humans, it reminds us why cavers tend to keep cave locations secret. It also shows the careless and indifferent conduct of the authorities.