Hidden deep in the mountains of the Artvin province of North Eastern Turkey is an abandoned Monastery called Nukas Sakdari. These are ancient Orthodox Christian ruins built over 1000 years ago by Georgians. It's said that there are 13 different monasteries hidden in the mountains here, all connected by secret tunnels, and that Nukas Sakdari was the most important of them all.
We arrive and meet the farmer who lives next to the ruins, and a story unfolds that you'd never expect.
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1:55-5:15 Meeting Mr. Nizam
5:15-10:02 The Bone Cellar
10:02-16:36 The Hike Up
16:36-20:23 Getting Inside
20:23-25:42 The Night Alone
25:42-26:37 R.I.P. Mr. Nizam
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Hakan Aydin the photographer
Orhan Yavuz my guide
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– [Mike] Warning. This documentary contains graphic images. Viewer discretion is advised. (Mike grunts) Oh, shit. (gentle ominous music) There's skulls. (ax chopping) People come to Turkey For the balloons, the
beaches, and the bazaars. I get it. But over here in northeastern
Turkey, it's magic. (gentle ethereal music) (waterfall whooshing) This video is about a
place called Nukas Sakdari. Look, can you see it? It's right there. It was built in the 9th or 10th century By Orthodox Georgians. After all, at one point, this was Georgia. It was constructed in
this impossible place So that it couldn't be captured By the raiding Arab tribes
that plagued the area. It's thought that there
could be 13 giant monasteries Hidden here in these misty mountains. All connected by secret tunnels. All lost, all forgotten. And that Nukas Sakdari was the
most important of them all. Now, all that remains
is this small church, Spectacularly placed
surrounded by the ruins Of something that was
once much, much greater. Just on the other side of the gorge, There's a small farm, And with it, the secret
to how to get inside.
And that's exactly where our story begins. That's it. Just right across the gorge. We're standing in a farmer's field, Or there's a farmer who lives here. We don't know him, but we're
going to pay him a visit, Which is something you do here in Turkey. Hospitality here is number one. Honestly, the Turkish
people do it really well. Let's meet some of the characters
in this play, shall we? Orhan, my guide with a keen interest In discovering the history of this area. And meet Hakan, a local photographer Who helps document these secret places. They've both already
gone inside to say hello. So I catch up. (family speaking foreign language) Hi. I would love some chai. We meet the owner, Mr. Nizam. His son. Hi, nice to meet you. And his wife, Who already has some
freshly roasted chestnuts For us to try. We discuss why we're here And ask if we can see
a bit more of the area. Mr. Nizam proudly shows us his farm, His chickens, His cows And his bees. (Mr. Nizam speaking foreign language) – So any vegetable, any fruit, He says the land pays it back generously. Nothing fails here. (Mr. Nizam speaks foreign language)
– [Mike] We bring up the
monastery that's across the gorge. He tells us it's a long story. So we head back to his house for some tea. (family speaking foreign language) (Mike laughs) You sit there, and I will
sit right beside him. Yeah, very nice. (Mr. Nizam speaks foreign language) Would he be able to guide us up? (Mr. Nizam speaks foreign language) – [Orhan] Of course, you
know, whenever I'm at home I help every visitor who wants to go up, And I will help you too. – [Mike] Since the light is fading, And the way up to the
monastery is dangerous, Mr. Nizam says it's much better To climb up first thing tomorrow morning. Also, he mentions his neighbor has other Strange rock structures
hidden beneath his property. Maybe old wine cellars, he thinks. If we're interested,
we can go check it out Before the sun sets. I mean, sure, why not? We got some time to kill. And it's not like they're
going to be filled With human bones or anything. Right? (ethereal string music) Here? Wow. How deep does it go? Are those human bones? No. They look human.
Orhan, are these human bones? – [Orhan] Yes.
– No. You think? It's human bone, yeah? (Hakan speaks foreign language) Like this one here. Do you see anything, Hakan? Can you see? – [Hakan] No. – [Mike] Mr. Nizam is
as spooked as we are. (Mr. Nizam speaks foreign language) – There used to be a very large scale Church, what they say here. So there are structures where we stand Probably beneath us, as well. – Are you asking me to go explore An underground cave full
of human bones for science? – For the sake of science, yeah. – For the sake of science. – Of course, of course.
– Okay. – If you dare to. – You're working with the right guy. A good adventure travel
YouTuber is always prepared. Let's do it.
Wish me luck. – [Orhan] Wish you luck. And make sure that nothing
grabs you. (laughs) – Just don't. For God's sake, don't say that. Flashlight, camera. Courage… Kinda. (gentle suspenseful music) Ready? Let's do it.
(Mike grunts) Oh, God. (Mike grunts) Oh shit. There's skulls. (Mike sighs) (rocks crunching) Can you see? – [Hakan] Yeah. I see. – [Mike] You see? – [Hakan] Yeah. – [Mike] One, two, three, four, five. – [Hakan] Oh my God. Too much. – [Mike] Too many.
– [Hakan] Too many. – [Mike] All this is bones, man. – Wow. – [Mike] Look at all the skulls. – [Hakan] Very difficult. – [Mike] There's one here too.
– [Hakan] Where? (rocks clattering) – [Hakan] Wow. – The eyes seem very close together. Could that have been a child? – [Hakan] This is child, huh? – [Mike] Maybe, right? 'Cause the eyes are- – [Hakan] Very small.
– Yeah. (indistinct) Look, and someone dug
all the way back here. Holy shit, though. Look, look, look, look, look. This might look like rock. It's not. (tense suspenseful music) This is all three feet of bones.
What do you think? – Oh my God. – [Mike] Crazy, right?
– Crazy. Yes. – They told us this was a wine cellar. It's not a wine cellar. It's gotta be a crypt. No one has really explored
these cellars before. The hole in the back was most likely dug By treasure hunters. But there doesn't seem
to be much else here. Night falls and we get some rest. Why were there so many
bones in there, though? Was it an ancient crypt
with bones of saints, Or were they put there
hundreds of years after, For some other dark reason? Remember, this area was
once part of Georgia And these are Christian ruins. Now it's in Turkey, which
is primarily Muslim. There's less interest to learn more And to preserve these places
not belonging to Islam. This adventure wasn't
even part of our plan. Remember, we still have to try and sleep In the hidden monastery. With a lot swirling in my mind, I wake up late for our hike. Whew. Pressure packing. We have to leave fast. In here, there's a blanket, Winter coat, a scarf, hat, A pillow, hopefully at some point. Sleeping bag, sleeping mat, knife, Camping essentials in here. A rope because I think
we'll probably need this To be able to get actually
safely inside the monastery.
We're gonna go up, And tomorrow morning I'll get a visit From Mr. Nizam, who will help me bring A couple things back down again. (Mike speaking foreign language) No, I say, what do I say again, Hakan? (Mike speaks foreign language) (Hakan responds in foreign language) (Mike repeats Hakan) (bright upbeat music) (Mike chuckles) You're ready. Let's go. So the adventure plan is this. I'll be going up with Hakan, my friend, And also local photographer, As well as Mr. Nizam,
to do some documentation For ourselves, as well
as for history, really. And they're gonna leave before dark, And I'm gonna camp. I'm on a quest for the
world's most epic campsite. This one might be the best yet. (uplifting string music) (water splashing) Can you drink? (Mike slurps) Whoa. Tastes fresh. Good?
– I am Okay. (Mike laughs) No problem. – We've just gone a bit higher Than Mr. Nizam's house. You can see it right there. Right, there it is. (catching breath) That's where we started.
And up there and around there And down there and up again And a couple twists and turns. That's where we're
headed. (breathes heavily) Getting kind of sweaty. (uplifting string music) (rocks crunching) (hands clap) Let's do it. Halfway. Maybe half. I have no idea if we're halfway. You just say halfway to get
your spirits up, is what you do. Halfway. What is it?
– [Hakan] Here. – Oh, a mushroom. – [Hakan] Mushroom. – Like, edible mushroom, Or crazy mushroom? (guide speaking foreign language) – [Mike] Oh, it's lion's mane. – [Hakan] Yes. Nice.
– [Mike] It's lion's mane. Cool, man.
– [Hakan] Yes. Very nice. – Good for your brain, yeah?
– [Hakan] Huh. – Yeah, they say. Lion's mane, it's beautiful, right? – [Hakan] Yes. (Hakan laughs) Oh my god.
(Mike laughs) – [Mike] Oh man, it's so-
– Hair. – [Mike] It's amazing nature Can make things like that, right? – Maybe.
(Mike laughs) – [Mike] Looks like a coral. – Very, very nice.
– [Mike] Yeah, very nice. (gentle uplifting music)
The monastery behind me. This was a massive,
massive church complex. Look, can you see Hakan over
there exploring some more? There's an old window. This was maybe a guard
tower, or who exactly knows? Time does what time does. It wrecks shit. Also, between earthquakes, There's treasure hunters that come And destroy things, looking
for gold rings or whatever. As well as even farmers like Mr. Nizam. He comes and he's trying
to build a retaining wall For his livestock. He takes some stones out
of some place like this, Because, I mean, what the hell is this? And it's no fault of his. But eventually, it all falls to pieces. Anything, places like this, Just elements of wonder. And if you're an explorer or adventurer, It's like a playground. Just sit here and wonder
what's beneath the rocks. Oh yeah. It's a door. Or something. Hakan.
– [Hakan] What's up? – [Mike] Come here. There's a very big hole or crypt or cell Or who God knows anymore these days. Just, you know what? I've had enough skulls. One day with no human remains
would be a great, great day. But you know we gotta
explore it. (inhales sharply) (Mike grunts) Yeah, not much. No bones, thankfully. Just some spiders.
Hopefully, no snakes. Oh my God, guys. (laughing) (sighing heavily) Oh. We've made it. We've found
the secret staircase. Staircase, well, I'm not exactly sure what this is. You could call it a staircase. Just watch that step. Dude's like a billy goat. We've been slipping the whole time. He's got a bunch of shit,
he hasn't slipped once. I travel to see places like this. Places that drop my jaw and make me say, ”Oh my God, this actually
exists on planet Earth. This is a real thing? It's not fantasy?” These things do exist. I'm looking at one of
those things right now. All right, guys. So instead of trying to put those bags Across that small little ledge, We're going to use the rope. 'Cause this thing weighs a fucking ton. Nice. (speaks foreign language) Okay. Now, man. (gentle uplifting music) – [Mr. Nizam] Slow, slow. – [Mike] It's okay? Heavy. Strong man. (chuckles) Yeah. (speaks foreign language) Slow and steady. That's all it has to be. (gentle uplifting music) (Mr. Nizam and Hakan chattering) All right. Mike's turn.
– [Hakan] Mr. Mike, slow. – I'm always slow. No, there's no rush. Slow and safe. Just gotta find the right combination Of hands and feet. (Mike grunts) And there… We… Go. All right. Oh, it looks so cool. (laughs) Whoa. (exhales sharply) We made it. We made it. If you're looking for the exact location, It's pinned on my map where you can see All the locations of my videos. Go to fearlessandfar.com/getthemap If you want the GPS pin
of this incredible place. Mister… (Mike laughs) Nizam's brought his ax 'cause he wanted to cut me some firewood For the night, which is
very much appreciated. 'Cause I was gonna bring
some up from the bottom. Oh my God. (laughs) I will take it. – For you. – [Mike] For me. A whole tree. (Mike grunts) Thank you. – You're welcome. – [Mike] That'll be very useful later.
Man, and people are so nice. (laughs) It's a hell of a thing, But it's also a little bit
smaller than I thought, right? Because looking at the outside, It looks like there must be a basement. And in places like this, there would be. There'd be, it'd be a
crypt or it'd be something. And maybe if we're lucky, we
can find some kind of tunnel. This, oh, no way. This is the north facing wall. And this is the actual stone of the cliff. The, like, knife edge That you can see from the drone. So this wall's real, and of
course, this is all made. And there's even still some
plaster on the outside. Another hole dug by treasure hunters. Ugh, they seem to be a big problem here. Remember my misadventure
at Satan's Castle? Someone came with a gun. Let's hope that doesn't happen again. As far as places to sleep, though, Holy shit. There's only a few holes in the ceiling. One and this massive one, I guess here. These places, there's
no one who can tell you What happened here. No one who can say for sure. Scientists can come,
archeologists, historians, But they can only ever just guess. I think we can probably climb this, yeah? As long as we're super careful. Can I get a leg? – [Hakan] Okay. – [Mike] Three, two, one.
– [Hakan] Are you ready?
– [Mike] Yeah, go. Hold on. (grunts) Yes. (laughs) We got it. (grunting) That's a hell of a view, my friend. Wow. (gentle sanguine music) Is it goodbye then? My friend, thank you. (Mike speaks foreign language) You're a savior, my friend. (Mike pats Mr. Nizam on back) I really appreciate it, yeah. Thank you. Thank you. Man, when I first planned this trip, I didn't expect to have Firewood brought for me, cut for me. I thought I'd be doing it all myself Like I normally do. But it's been humbling, honestly. I'll have to find a way to thank him. He brought me food, which
you'll see in a second. Brought me fatwood, brought me firewood. I thought I'd be doing this all myself. It's always better with company, though, So I'm gonna miss that guy. Tonight's gonna be a little bit less cold And a little bit less lonely, Now that he's been here to help. (group speaking in foreign language) – [Hakan] Goodbye. See you early. – [Mike] Goodbye. And then, Three turned to one.
And there was just me. (gentle pensive music) (wood cracking) (Mike grunting) This is the food that Mr. Nizam And his wife packed me. I just straight up forgot to
bring food. I was that excited. Oh, guys, they packed me a feast. Check this out. Here is what's on the menu tonight. Homemade bread. Homemade bread. Another piece right there. Cheese from the cow we saw. We've got honey from the hives we saw. And these. What is this thing? It's crunchy. It's crunchy. I get asked a lot, guys, If I'm scared to do
these solo camping trips. And the reality is, I'm a simple guy. I'm scared of the real world stuff. The real world dangers. So, like, tripping and falling, Yeah, that'd be bad. Bears here, as well, are a problem. Don't have to worry too much, Because it's hard to get up here. Also, you know, things like Looking back at that doorway And seeing a girl in a white
dress with long black hair Staring back at me blocking the exit. You know, just the normal,
real world scary things That everyone's afraid of. But I do have some rules, actually.
I don't talk about this very often. I like to have a little sip Of a flask I normally bring As, like, a celebration. Being out here all by myself, Enjoying a marvel Of engineering, really. But I make sure I finish all of my shots. So we'll eat. I'll set
up a time lapse outside. They usually run for four or five hours, So you can see the stars. And then, I'll have a sip. I don't have a sip and
then set up the camera And then walk around, Because it's a death trap here. Let's be honest. So next step, is we'll be setting up camp, And then I'm gonna put
you outside for the night In the dog house. Watch out for bears. And I'm gonna enjoy this place And hopefully get some sleep. The alcohol also helps. The girl in the doorway. God forbid, I gotta stop looking back At that freaking doorway. All right. I'll finish my food. I've got some leftover
kerosene from our torch. And let's light this place up Like it used to be, yeah? Back in the day. (gentle piano music) Some things are lost to time.
No one exactly knows the story here, But it was supposedly massive. I can't imagine what it would've been like Here in the spring. White robed people whisking
around on their daily duties, Watering the fruit trees, praying to God. But this is all lost to time. And all that's left here is me. Walking these halls where
people have walked before me, Connected through place
but not through time. Can a human sense another human spirit? Do we leave something behind In these stones when we leave? Questions without answers. What do you think? Let me know in the comments. (torch flickers) (gentle poignant music) (wind in time lapse whooshing) (Mike shuffling) (Mike coughs) (Mike yawns) (Mike blows on ashes) Oh, yeah. All right. We're still alive. (Mike grunting and adjusting) (Mike laughs) And then there was fire, once again. Next step… Coffee. (Mike exhales sharply) I can't believe I'm here. Hello, my friend. (Mike and Mr. Nizam greet
in foreign language)
(Mike laughs) (both greeting in foreign language) Good to see you. (soft piano music) Goodbye. Goodbye. So if you wanna come here, You know, have some tea with Mr. Nizam- Hold on for a second. This story takes a sad turn. Mr. Nizam died of a heart attack On February 4th, 2022, Three months after filming this video. My life and this YouTube channel Depend on the kindness of strangers. And Mr. Nizam was one of
the kindest of them all. I wish I could have shown him this video Before he passed. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, And may you rest in peace. I'm gonna miss that guy. Tonight's gonna be a little bit less cold And a little bit less lonely, Now that he's been here to help. (gentle solemn music)