Hidden passages, ancient underground cities and ghastly urban legends, these are the things that seem to fascinate most of us. The truth is that many mysteries in the world still remain uncovered even to this day, making us more desperate to go out and look for them. One of the most famous cities in fiction is Atlantis, which is said to be hidden somewhere in the sea but we have a lot of Atlantis’ equivalents here on land.
Whether for protection from the elements or reasons unknown to us, humans have created many cities beneath the Earth’s crust. Some of these were built in ancient times while others were constructed during the more modern history. Regardless, these underground worlds still teem with magical stories of life that once was and the people who lived there. So here we have compiled a list of 15 shocking underground worlds that exist and still carry a hint of mystery with them.
15. Derinkuyu, Turkey
If you were to ever visit Cappadocia city which is located in central Turkey, you will never realize that there are almost 36 underground cities at a depth of approximately 85 meters beneath you. Derinkuyu is one of these cities and it is also the deepest.
This subterranean network of tunnels and rooms was discovered in 1963 when a guy named Omar Demir accidentally stumbled across a deep hole, finding his way into this underground city. It includes all the institutions that you would expect to find in a regular city and is said to have housed more than 20,000 people at one point. One of the most amazing aspects of this discovery is how the people of that time were able to construct such a sophisticated infrastructure even though the Turks at that point lacked such capabilities. So, who were the people that built these cities and why? Hopefully, more research will lead to some answers in the future.
14. Paris Catacombs, France
The beautiful streets of Paris carry a huge secret deep within. Underneath the city lies a network of tunnels and catacombs which stretch over more than 200 miles and have been used for many different purposes ever since they were created. They were originally hollowed out for limestone when the city was first being constructed.
This underground set of tunnels saw their use once again during World War II when they were occupied by the French resistance to hide from the Nazis. This, however, is not what makes them spooky and mysterious because they were also once used as an area for corpse disposal and trust us, you do not want to come across human remains when exploring an underground tunnel. Nowadays a team of French officials is deployed to monitor the structural integrity of these catacombs since they have been known to cave in and take entire surface neighborhoods with them.
13. Edinburgh Vaults, England
What most people might not be aware of is the fact that beneath Scotland’s capital, there lies another dark and damp world which dates back all the way to the 18th century. Known as the Edinburgh Vaults, these are a series of chambers formed between the 19 arches of the South Bridge in Edinburgh.
These chambers were originally built as a home to taverns, cobblers, smelters and other tradesmen but rumors also suggest that Burke and Hare, two serial killers also used to store bodies down here which were later sold for medical experiments. Because of this, the Edinburgh vaults still exude a feeling of gore and ghastliness, after all, who knows what else might be hidden down there.
12. Old Sacramento, United States
This will come as a surprise to most of you but there is an entire city beneath Sacramento, California. In 1862, a massive flood swept across California’s capitol which resulted in damages to countless homes and businesses across the city. Because of this, the legislature was moved to San Francisco but a solution was still required to prevent similar disasters from happening in the future. This resulted in the action which required that all of the city’s streets be raised by ten feet, allowing construction of new buildings over the foundations of old.
The abandoned spaces left below saw their use as storage chambers and cellars. What’s really mysterious about this place, however, is that there is still a large portion of old Sacramento architecture that still remains untouched, carrying items that were once owned by people who lived down there.
11. Pilsen Historical Underground, Czech Republic
The city of Pilsen which is located in the western part of Czech Republic is home to one of the oldest underground constructions in the world. It is basically a 12.5-mile long network of passageways, cellars, and chambers which were constructed back in the 14th century. Most of these were used to store food and beer while the passageways were to be used as an escape route in case of an attack.
According to legend, there is a valuable treasure which is buried within one of the cellar walls but unfortunately, no one knows of its location and looting is strictly discouraged. If it was found, it would provide us an insight into the lives of the people whole once used to live down here.
10. Napoli Sotteranea, Italy
If someone asked you to list the names of European cities which you believed had an underground secret, Naples would most probably be not on that list. It is the capital of the Italian region of Campania and home to the Napoli Sotterranea, a massive system of caverns and tunnels which have been carved out of volcanic rock known as tuff.
The history of this underground network dates back to the ancient Greeks who used them as reservoirs for water storage. There are many other mysterious and fascinating objects down below, including theatres that were once used for entertainment and Christian worship sites. During World War II, these tunnels also use as air raid shelters.
9. Burlington Bunker, England
Unlike some of the other entries on this list, the Burlington Bunker was designed and created in recent history. The threat of a nuclear attack was very high during the Cold War era and so a lot of nuclear bunkers were created all around the world and the Burlington Bunker was one of these. However, the word bunker might not do this place justice as it consists of more than 35 acres of constructions and almost 60 miles of road.
It was capable of housing more than 4,000 people at a time complete with all sorts of amenities like a TV studio and a pub. The existence of this massive underground city remained classified until 2004, when it was officially decommissioned without even being used once.
8. Beijing Underground, China
We have already discussed in one of the previous entries how the threat of nuclear annihilation during the cold War urged world leaders to seek safety measures underground. A project similar to the Burlington Bunker known as Mao Zedong’s underground city was put forth which covered a staggering area of 33 miles under Beijing.
One of the biggest motivations behind this was the rise in tensions between China and Russia in the 1970’s. This underground city carried all the basic amenities including clinics, schools and even areas for entertainment. Food was to be grown on a subterranean mushroom farm and provided to the inhabitants of this city. The Chinese government opened this place for tourists in 2000 but later closed it down in 2008. It is now home to all sorts of illegal activities and some parts of the complex are even being used as apartments by people to live in.
7. Las Vegas Tunnels, United States
As the famous catchphrase for Sin City goes, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. The glittering streets of this city are sprawling with the wealthy who don’t have a second thought before spending all of their money on expensive food and gambling. What most people do not know, however, is that underneath all this glamour is a subterranean world which is home to those who have been chewed up and spit out by this city.
The tourism boom of the 1990’s brought a lot of tax money in the pockets of city leaders, allowing them to build a system of tunnels sprawling over 200 miles to protect Vegas from flash floods. These tunnels have now become home to almost a thousand people who have created their own little mysterious communities and living spaces while hoping that the rain doesn’t wash away everything they own.
6. Taklamakan Desert, China
The Taklamakan Desert is the largest desert in China and it is also the second largest shifting-sand desert in the world. Also known as the “Sea of Death”, it was once believed that anyone who entered this place would never find a way out. Many ancient relics which have been discovered by archaeologists point to the fact that an entire city with houses and temples once existed here.
No one exactly knows what happened to the people who lived here since most of this city is buried under the desert which spans over an area of almost 33,700 square kilometers. I guess we’ll only come across more secrets about this mysterious place as time goes by.
5. Moosejaw Tunnels, Canada
Back in 1908, an extensive network of underground tunnels was constructed to connect buildings in downtown Moose Jaw. The original purpose of these was to act as an underground steam system, however, that idea was later abandoned. These tunnels soon turned into a hub of everything illegal during the 1920, where illegal alcohol was warehoused before being shipped to the United States.
One of the biggest rumors about this place though, is that Al Capone used these for his smuggling operations and while no photographic evidence of this exists, locals have provided accounts of having met Capone during one of his trips. What else could have gone down in these tunnels? I guess we will never know.
4. Petra, Jordan
While not exactly an underground city, Petra is a giant monastery which is just one of the many dwellings carved into rocks by the Nabataeans during the 2nd century. It is famous for the intricate rock architecture which can be found at the entrances while a water conduit system also once existed.
It wasn’t until 1812 that this site was discovered by a Swiss explorer and named as one of the New7Wonders of the World in 2007. As of 2016, archeologists are still discovering more structures including a large, previously unknown monumental structure which is buried under the sands of Petra. What this structure contains, however, is unknown and it is a topic of much debate.
3. Orvieto Pyramid, Italy
It seems as if Italy is home to more than a few mysterious underground civilizations. Deep beneath the city of Orvieto, archaeologists came across a series of underground structures that were connected to each other via tunnels. One of these constructions is a strange pyramid-the function of which still remains unknown.
According to some of the other artifacts discovered, this ancient Etruscan city existed during the 4th to 6th centuries BC. According to one of the researchers, the pyramids could represent either a religious structure or a tomb and many of the structures have yet to be excavated from the site.
2. Underground Labyrinth, Egypt
Now we are slowly entering the realm of conspiracy theories. From pharaohs to the pyramids, Egypt has some of the most well-known historical artifacts which point to many ancient Egyptian civilizations. While everyone is aware of the great pyramids of Giza, some of the lesser known mysteries also exist that are equally magical and unknown to the society.
The ‘Lost Labyrinth of Egypt’ is one of these, or at least that is what a lot of people claim it to be. According to some, these underground chambers and tunnels have been mentioned many times in ancient texts and their discovery could potentially change the way we look at human history. In 2008, a group of researchers claimed that they had discovered this underground city but unfortunately, their findings were quickly suppressed. Many believe that the government is trying to suppress this discovery for unknown reasons, so, does the underground Labyrinth really exist? And if so, where hasn’t it been made public yet? Regardless, there is something definitely mysterious about this entire situation.
1. Mt. Tsurugi, Japan
Another story of a hidden underground structure comes from Japan where it is speculated that something ancient is hidden in a chamber inside Mt. Tsurugi. In 1936, historian and scholar Masanori Takane started excavations at Mt. Tsurugi along with a group of other archaeologists during which they discovered several stone artifacts and evidence of tunnels.
Many of these discoveries helped Takane come up with the theory that people who had lived here in the past modified the peak of Mt. Tsurugi to hide something significant. Many conspiracy theorists believe this to be the lost biblical treasure, the Ark of the Covenant. Sadly, it could never be confirmed because this mountain was made a part of the Tsurugi-san nature preserve, essentially making it illegal to perform any excavations on this site.
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