The world is indeed a strange place. On one hand, there exists a lot many mysteries dotting the earth on its surface. On the other there exists also a world beneath that obviously hoards a wider range of secrets. Fascinating and bewildering in equal measure, these underground places serve as trajectories into the lesser known. Whether it be as full fledged cities or as network of alleys or even as pseudo underground realms characterising everyday lives, underground spaces continue to hold all across the world in enthuse. Here’s visiting some of the coolest such places that will inspire you to go underground with your next travel sojourn-
Derinkuyu, Cappadocia, Turkey
Instagram famous for its surreal expanses of magic laden beauty, Cappadocia in Turkey is a marvel for more than one reason. In its very mention, Cappadocia conjures up an image of numerous hot air balloons flying up there in the air. Prominent in its fairy chimneys and clusters of tall, cone-shaped rock formations, this is a place very worth of being enlisted among UNESCO’s famous World Heritage Sites having cemented its place in 1985. But that’s not even all the intrigue this prettiest of place harbours. Home to quite a few underground cities, precisely 36 of them, the region is as much an abode of secret charms as it is of fairytale- like fables.
The most notable among these many trails running underground is the deepest and biggest city of Derinkuyu. With seven underground levels making up this city of an entire civilization, Derinkuyu is very obviously a prominent tourist attraction of the present times. Remarkably, the city also housed not just homes and hearths but also shops and markets, schools and chapels and even primitive wineries.
City Of The Gods, Giza Plateau
The very mention of Giza invariably has an aura of mystery to it. Famed in its Pyramids, Giza has been an undying enigma for people the world over. But it seems that this land of ancient wonders is abundant in surprises that go well beyond the visual basics.
Nestling beneath the giant pyramids of Giza is a vast network of underground chambers and water tunnels that are no less any mysterious than the giants atop. Spaces beyond the Giza Plateau on its underneath extend well in the direction of Saqqara, which in the ancient legends are often called the underground city. In fact as the gate to the underworld, the Sphinx of Giza has always been astronomically profound which therefore compounds further the mystery beneath its confines. A rather recent discovery having been unearthed only in the late 1970s, this underground space named the City of the Gods sure is another of the mysteries emerging from this already mysterious place.
Rather uncharacteristic of its distinction as being an underground city is Matmata in Tunisia. Traditional underground “troglodyte” structures shape up the town which houses underground homes rather than being a full fledged underground city itself. Discovered only in 1969, this is one city that however have had its tryst with fame. A popular tourist attraction now, Matmata is also noted in starring in Star Wars: A New Hope with its Hotel Sidi Driss sharing screen space as Luke Skywalker’s childhood home. Unlike most underground cities though that were built as a passage to safety in case of war or attacks, Matmata’s existence in the world underneath the real had been a means devised by its residents as a respite from the scorching desert sun.
Tunnels of Moose Jaw
In its over a century and a decade long existence, the tunnels of Moose Jaw are a very prime presence in the continuing facade of Canadian history. But what started as an extensive network of tunnels dug underground to run the city on steam power soon became a haywire run into secrecy under the veil of the dark that the underground facilitates.
With poor Chinese immigrants forced to go underground due to high taxes levied on them, these tunnels soon became their source of survival. There have even been suggestions of racial discrimination perpetrated against these people that forced them to seek shelter in the secret shadows of the Moose Jaw tunnels. Over time, the tunnels became even more famous- or infamous- as being routes through which liquor could be obtained. Thankfully the trade died down but the legacy remains spanning what is now a tourist attraction and another of the secretive places in the world.
Montréal’s Underground City
La Ville Souterraine or the underground city is where Montreal dwells in its frigid winters. Popular as RÉSO, the place is however more of an indoor city, with several underground passages connecting everything from office towers to hotels to shopping centers and residential spaces as well as universities and even performing arts venues.
As a network of interconnected spaces, RÉSO is very much the hub of life in Montreal during the winters, when almost half a million people make for the rush of it every day. Climate controlled and well lit so that even the harshest of winters becomes all the more bearable, RÉSO can be accessed by 120 separate entrances. A swanky modern city with all amenities of life, RÉSO rarely ‘feels’ different. As the largest underground complex in the world, Montreal’s vast network of impressive arrays that guides a daily way of life is also as prominent a tourist attraction.
Coober Pedy, Australia
Famous as the Opal Capital of the World, Australia’s Coober Pedy is another of the many underground cities. Though in featuring such homes that are dugout deep into the ground, the city might not be a proper subterranean centre. Much like Tunisia’s Matmata, the underground houses in Coober Pedy too are devised as means to ward off the heat. A very small town but gaining popularity as a tourist attraction, Coober Pedy features also a golf court and a drive in theater.
Situated on beds of sand and siltstone topped with a stony, treeless desert has granted Australia’s underground mining town more than enough scope of being a lively, popular place that gets all the attention. The town has received considerable attention to be a recognisable facet of popular culture. With its outworldy terrains and unearthly appearance, Coobr Pedy has been the site for shooting of such films as Pitch Black, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Red Planet, Until the End of the World and of course, Opal Dream.
A mostly underground pedestrian walkway network in downtown Toronto, the PATH is the largest underground shopping complex in the world as recognised by the Guinness World Record. A network of underground pedestrian tunnels, elevated walkways, the Toronto Path has been in existence in its earliest being since 1900. From facilitating pedestrian linkages to public transit to providing a safe haven from the winter cold and snow, alongside the summer heat and humidity, the PATH is in fact very crucial to the way of daily life in Toronto. Also, as an important contributor to the economic viability of the city’s downtown core, Toronto’s PATH is busy enough to warrant maps and apps for daily users to follow sales while additionally being color coded to help with navigation.
Shanghai Tunnels, Portland, United States
Among the good old underground spaces that continue their existence into the present times are the Shanghai Tunnels of the United States. Earlier known as the Old Portland Underground, these underground tunnels have quite a history rooted in their dated existence. An intricate network that once linked Portland’s Old Town, also known as Chinatown, to the central Downtown area, the tunnels served as safe means for movement from ships to basements. But lurking behind this secure passage of storage is a legacy quite insecure. Infamous as being the hub that allowed for the practice of shanghaiing, this prominent city feature of Portland, the Forbidden City of the West now however commands awe as one rather remarkable tourist attraction. In also its spooky spirits, the Shanghai Tunnels sound as mysterious as the perfect underground place should be!