• Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Discoveries of Ancient Underground Cities Around the World


May 14, 2023

Beneath the floor of our world, hidden underneath layers of soil, stone, and historical past, lie remnants of historic civilizations – huge networks of tunnels, expansive  underground cities , and sophisticated subterranean constructions. Our ancestors demonstrated outstanding ingenuity, carving out these intricate labyrinths for causes as numerous as their cultures. Whether or not born out of necessity, spirituality, or safety, these underground marvels have been preserved, ready to share the untold tales of our human previous.

South and Central America

Within the coronary heart of Mexico, the  ancient city of Teotihuacan  homes an in depth labyrinth of tunnels beneath the Pyramid of the Solar. Found solely within the Seventies, this intricate community of tunnels extends to over 5 kilometers, with rooms branching off in varied instructions. These chambers are believed to have been used for rituals and ceremonies, with artifacts equivalent to sculptures, pottery, and even human stays unearthed throughout excavations. The  tunnels of Teotihuacan  supply a novel perception into the religious and cultural lifetime of this historic civilization.

In 2008, one other outstanding discovery was made in Mexico that additional underscored the significance of the underground in Mesoamerican cosmology and structure. Archaeologists uncovered eleven stone temples inside an underground cave system beneath the Yucatan Peninsula, full with an underground street which the Mayans believed led to the legendary underworld metropolis often known as Xibalba. The underworld was an important a part of the Mayan religious perception system, with Xibalba usually depicted as a harmful place stuffed with lethal trials for deceased souls.

In Peru, the Qenqo Chico tunnel community is a powerful instance of Incan engineering. These tunnels, a part of the bigger Qenqo archaeological complicated close to Cusco, had been carved straight into the rock and are thought to have been used for spiritual and ceremonial functions. Qenqo Chico and its subterranean passages proceed to fascinate archaeologists and vacationers alike, providing a glimpse into the religious lifetime of the Inca civilization.

The sprawling  Mayan pyramid complex at Tikal , situated in present-day Guatemala, has additionally revealed an intricate system of underground tunnels. These tunnels, rediscovered within the late twentieth century, seem to attach varied elements of the huge city-state, suggesting an environment friendly transportation or communication system. Nonetheless, their actual operate stays the topic of ongoing examine. What is obvious, nonetheless, is that these subterranean constructions present important insights into town planning and architectural capabilities of the traditional Mayan civilization, which flourished at Tikal from round 200 to 900 AD.

Underground shrine at Qenqo Chico, Peru. Supply:  Leon petrosyan  / CC by SA 3.0


In Ethiopia, the  rock-hewn churches of Lalibela  symbolize a powerful feat of subterranean structure. Carved straight into stable rock within the twelfth century, these 11 monolithic church buildings had been reportedly created to symbolize a symbolic illustration of Jerusalem. Every church was chiseled out of the bottom, then additional formed into doorways, home windows, columns, and embellished with carvings. This UNESCO World Heritage web site is a testomony to the ingenuity of historic African architects, and the underground community connecting the church buildings provides to the paranormal aura of Lalibela.

In Egypt, the Giza Plateau has an  enormous underground system  that could be a mixture of artifical caverns and tunnels in addition to subterranean rivers and passages. Since 1978 the caverns have been mapped utilizing floor penetrating radar with  explorations led by Dr Jim Hurtak who has allegedly entered huge chambers bigger than our largest cathedrals. A number of historians consider that the underground cave system in Giza, is the legendary ‘Metropolis of the Gods’, an enormous underground metropolis described by historic writers Herodotus (5 th century BC) and Strabo (1 st Century AD). Herodotus wrote:

“There I noticed twelve palaces repeatedly disposed, which had communication with one another, interspersed with terraces and organized round twelve halls. It’s arduous to consider they’re the work of man. The partitions are coated with carved figures, and every court docket is exquisitely constructed of white marble and surrounded by a colonnade. Close to the nook the place the labyrinth ends, there’s a pyramid, 200 and forty toes in peak, with nice carved figures of animals on it and an underground passage by which it may be entered. I used to be advised very credibly that underground chambers and passages linked this pyramid with the pyramids at Memphis.”

Moreover, Herodotus spoke of the invention of a multi-level megalithic metropolis underneath Giza that was 15,000 years outdated.

Many historic writers supported Herodotus’ file of underground passages connecting main pyramids. Lamblichus, a 4 th century AD Syrian consultant of the Alexandrian Faculty of mystical and philosophical research, recorded details about an entranceway via the physique of the Sphinx into the Nice Pyramid:

“This entrance, obstructed in our day by sands and garbage, should be traced between the forelegs of the crouched colossus. It was previously closed by a bronze gate whose secret spring could possibly be operated solely by the Magi. It was guarded by public respect, and a form of spiritual concern maintained its inviolability higher than armed safety would have executed. Within the stomach of the Sphinx had been minimize out galleries resulting in the subterranean a part of the Nice Pyramid.  These galleries had been so art-fully crisscrossed alongside their course to the Pyramid that, in setting forth into the passage and not using a information all through this community, one ceasingly and inevitably returned to the place to begin.”

One of the spectacular underground constructions in Egypt is the Serapeum of Saqqara, an enormous subterranean complicated that housed the Apis bulls, thought of incarnations of the god Ptah. Housing huge granite sarcophagi in crypt-like galleries, this labyrinthine community showcases the Egyptians’ superior engineering abilities.


The invention in 1992 of 24 man-made caves in China, often known as the  Longyou Caves , revealed a rare feat of historic engineering and craftsmanship. The caves, carved into stable siltstone, symbolize an enormous enterprise that required the elimination of an estimated 36,000 cubic meters of stone. The ground space of every grotto extends over two thousand sq. meters, with the very best level within the caves reaching over 30 meters. Apparently, there aren’t any historic data or legends pertaining to the caves, rendering their origin and function a thriller. The precision and symmetry of the carving, together with the sheer quantity of excavated materials, suggest a stage of planning and group that problem our understanding of historic Chinese language society and its capabilities. The absence of device marks or indicators of labor, coupled with the size and complexity of the caves, proceed to perplex researchers and historians, making the Longyou Caves probably the most enigmatic archaeological websites on this planet.

One of the Longyou caves. Source: Zhangzhugang  / CC by SA 4.0.

One of many Longyou caves. Supply:  Zhangzhugang  / CC by SA 4.0.

India, with its wealthy and historic historical past, can be residence to a lot of fascinating underground constructions. The town of Varanasi, believed to be one of many oldest repeatedly inhabited cities on this planet, has an in depth community of underground passages and rooms that date again a number of centuries. These passages had been utilized by the residents for varied functions together with journey, commerce, and spiritual ceremonies. Moreover, the UNESCO World Heritage web site of  Ellora in Maharashtra , well-known for its rock-cut temples, consists of an intricate community of tunnels and chambers beneath the floor. One of the astonishing of those underground marvels is the Kailasa Temple, which was carved from a single rock and extends into the earth, showcasing the superior architectural and engineering abilities of historic Indian civilization. The aim and full extent of those subterranean networks in India stay topics of ongoing archaeological exploration and analysis.

Turkey, notably the area of  Cappadocia, is world-renowned for its historic underground cities. These cities had been primarily used as hideouts by early Christians to flee persecution.  Derinkuyu, probably the most well-known of those underground cities, is an expansive community that extends roughly 60 meters deep and will accommodate an astonishing 20,000 individuals together with their livestock and meals shops. It had greater than 600 entrances to the floor. One other well-known subterranean metropolis is Kaymakli, which was believed to have been used as a big agricultural depot and buying and selling hub. The cities comprise quite a few options equivalent to air flow shafts, wine and oil presses, stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, and chapels, showcasing a complicated understanding of underground building. Turkey might have the best variety of underground cities and networks within the work and extra are being found yearly.


In Italy,  the legacy of the Etruscans , a pre-Roman civilization, is seen via an in depth community of underground tunnels often known as “Vie Cave” or “Etruscan Methods.” These slim, canyon-like paths, which had been dug into tuff stone, usually attain staggering heights, creating a powerful spectacle. Their function stays largely a thriller, with theories starting from a way of communication and transport between settlements, to having spiritual or ceremonial significance.

On the archipelago of Malta is residence to an enormous community of underground tunnels. The  Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni , a UNESCO World Heritage web site, is a rare subterranean construction relationship again to round 3300-3000 BC. This labyrinthine complicated spans three ranges, with rooms, halls, and passages hewn straight into the limestone. The Hypogeum was probably used as each a sanctuary and a necropolis, with stays of over 7,000 people found inside its depths.

Elsewhere in Europe, town of Odessa in Ukraine is understood for its labyrinthine catacombs, which stretch roughly 2,500 kilometers, making them among the many largest networks of tunnels anyplace on this planet. Initially, these tunnels had been the results of limestone mining within the nineteenth century, the identical limestone used to construct a lot of town. Over time, the catacombs served varied functions – from a hideout for Soviet partisans throughout World Warfare II to a bootleg playground in more moderen years. These various examples underline Europe’s wealthy historical past of using subterranean areas for an array of functions, every of them contributing to our understanding of previous civilizations.

The flexibility of historic individuals to form the earth, to construct beneath the floor, and to create these complicated subterranean networks throughout continents is a testomony to their resilience, ingenuity, and flexibility. These underground cities, tunnels, and constructions are extra than simply historic relics; they’re enduring symbols of humanity’s enduring need to innovate, adapt, and survive.

High picture: Man standing in underground metropolis of Derinkuyu, Turkey. Supply:  Parilov / Adobe Inventory.

By Joanna Gillan

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