There are many underground cities around the world and plenty of history of a life that once was and activities few people ever heard about surrounding their passageways, ancient tunnels, and urban legends.
Back in the day, many reasons could have driven people underground, as to war, natural disasters, weather, lack of space on the surface and others and while the cities were built for different purposes before, most of them are now fully functional urban spaces. Check out these 7 amazing underground cities around the world and learn some interesting facts.
1. Shanghai Tunnels, Portland, United States
Portland has its own underground city known as the Shanghai Tunnels, also known as the Portland Underground. Supposedly it once consisted of tunnel passageways linking Portland’s Old Town (Chinatown), to the central Downtown area.
Back in the day, many downtown bars and hotels had their basements linked to the Willamette River waterfront so ships could unload the goods directly to the basements for storage and as a way to avoid rain and heavy traffic.
There are rumors that the tunnels had also been used for the practice of ‘shanghaiing’, which means kidnapping people for them to serve as sailors.
Nowadays, you can actually take a secure walking tour and explore a a portion of the Shanghai Tunnels.
2. Underground Cherkizovsky Market Town, Moscow, Russia
This may not be considered completely as such but in 2013 a police raid found hundreds of migrant workers in an ‘underground town’ in Moscow.
More than 200 people were hidden beneath the capital’s Cherkizovsky Market. The police discovered a subterranean factory containing work rooms filled with sewing machines, along with living quarters, a cafe, a cinema, a casino, and a chicken coop.
An explanation for this was that the Cherkizovsky Market -also known as Cherkizon- was the largest marketplace in Izmaylovo District, Moscow, but after authorities closed it down in 2009 due to numerous forbidden activities. Many workers moved under the streets of Moscow where they continued to live and operate their businesses.
3. Edinburgh Vaults, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
The Edinburgh Vaults, also called the South Bridge Vaults, are a series of chambers formed within the 19 arches of South Bridge. The vaults were opened back in 1788 to house taverns, cobblers, cutlers, smelters and other tradesmen, but also to store forbidden materials.
It is rumor that serial killers such as Burke and Hare used to store various bodies down there and sold them for medical experiments. As businesses started to move out and the vaults became home to the city’s poorest souls.
Nowadays, the wet chambers give off a feel of ghastliness but you can actually visit them and listen to the guide’s shivering stories of the ghosts still lingering around.
4. Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow, Poland
Just over 9 miles outside of Krakow, the Wieliczka Salt Mine was built back in the 13th century and had produced table salt continuously until 2007. It has other names like the Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland or the Royal Salt Mine.
The mine was used for Nazis as a munitions factory and from being a series of dark caves, this underground salt city evolved to a complex labyrinth featuring over 185 miles of galleries, about 3000 chambers, 9 floors, surrounded by lots of chandeliers, a large numbers of statues and an entire cathedral, all made from rock salt. In fact, the first three floors are open to the public.
There are a lot of guided tour options, you can get to know the history of the salt mine in the Miners’ Tour or if you want to learn more about the religious aspects, the Pilgrims’ Tour includes a visit to the salt statue of John Paul II and a Holy Mass at the end.
5. Derinkuyu, Turkey
Back in the day, the city was known as Malakopea and Christians used to hid there from Arab invaders. Later, Derinkuyu’s residents moved underground to escape invaders in Byzantine times as the Roman Empire was collapsing.
So nowadays Derinkuyu is a popular tourist attraction located down to 85 feet deep and the largest and best known of nearly 200 underground cities in Turkey’s Nevsehir Province.
6. Leavenworth, Kansas, USA
Beneath the streets of this small Kansas town, there are tunnels and vaults that stretch under downtown Leavenworth and connect several of the town’s buildings. Yet it is full of mystery since nobody knows who built the underground city or as to why, though it can be accessed through several points.
It is said that the tunnels may have served as hiding places before the Civil War or during the war itself. Another possibility is that the tunnels were built to hide and move liquor back in the day when alcohol was not permitted yet in the United States as some of the tunnels lead to breweries.
7. Coober Pedy, South Australia
It’s a small town often referred to as the “opal capital of the world” because of the quantity of precious opals that are mined there.
It’s considered as an underground city because many of the residents live in two or three-bedroom caves called dugouts due to the high temperatures in the region that frequently exceeds 40 °C in the summer. In fact, it’s usually so hot that golfers at the town only play at night using glow in the dark balls.
The inhabitants have many underground facilities as well, from shops and churches to an underground graveyard.
Have you heard of these underground cities before?