No, this isn’t an article for meerkats! Contrary to popular belief, humans also often love to burrow underground – and create towns, cities and even churches.
1. Seattle, USA – Old Underground City
Beneath the streets of the Space Needle and the Pike Place Market lies a secret underground city that was once the real Seattle back in the 19th Century. After the devastating Great Seattle Fire in 1889, town planners decided to simply build the new city on top of the old one! Today, an underground tour will allow you to stroll the old streets, roads and shops – which are all now underground.
2. Krakow, Poland – Wieliczka Salt Cathedral
Set 327 metres below the surface, the Wieliczka Salt Cathedral is a man-made underground wonder that’s visited by millions each year. The salt mine has existed since the 13th Century and miners of old decided to carve incredible creations down below – including a cathedral, three chapels and a bunch of impressive statues. There’s even an underground lake!
3. Turda, Romania – Salina Turda Salt Mine
Dracula’s old stomping ground is also home to another underground playpen – the Turda Salt Mine. Humans began excavating this mine thousands of years ago, and today it’s a must-visit travel destination, if only to see the museum, the golf course and the ferris wheel, not to mention the lake with boat rides and also the spa centre.
4. Derinkuyu, Turkey – Derinkuyu Underground City
Here, you can go back to the Median Empire and explore an underground destination carved into old volcanic rock. Cool passageways, old-school homes and amazing courtyards characterise this ancient city, as do places like wineries, cellars and even churches.
5. Sri Lanka – Dambulla Cave Temple Complex
If you’ve ever wondered what underground worship is like, Sri Lanka is the place to be. The largest of its cave temple complexes, Dambulla dates back to the 1st Century B.C., when five caves were converted into shrine rooms. Incredible Buddhist statues and ancient mural paintings are the highlight of this underground attraction.
6. London, UK – Cabinet War Rooms
This one is a must for war buffs. These bunkers housed Winston Churchill and his government and military throughout the WWII Blitz. You’ll get to see the historic rooms where Churchill plotted his war strategies, glimpse the original artefacts and furniture used (including Churchill own chair) and learn about life underground during the war.
7. Montreal, Canada – Underground City & Mall
Fancy a spot of underground shopping? The famed city and shopping centre of Montreal houses around 2,000 shops and restaurants and is thought to be one of the biggest shopping strips in the world. While the centre is not entirely underground, it’s still worth a visit, especially for the art installations and the sinking church!
8. Coober Pedy, Australia – Underground Hotels
If you need a time out from life – and from living above the surface – head to none other than the opal mining town of Coober Pedy in South Australia. There are a few underground hotels and motels to choose from, and you can also visit an underground church or shop at some underground stores. At the end of the day, basking in the beautiful views of the Aussie outback is a must.
9. Edinburgh, Scotland – South Bridge Vaults
Today, the South Bridge (or Edinburgh) Vaults provide a wonderful labyrinth of tunnels where you can scare yourself silly on a ghost tour. But back in the late 1700s and beyond, this is where you could find cobblers, tradies, drinking taverns and shops selling more “illicit” substances. The famous 1828 serial killers Burke and Hare were also thought to have kept some of their bodies here. Yikes!
Photo credit: Admrboltz, Akumiszcza, Boninho, Lankapic, Porcupine, Laslovarga, Nachoman-au, Kjetilbjornsrud