The places we travel to have called to us for years. For those of us who dedicate our free time and spare chunks of change to traversing the oceans around us, the locations of the world have called to us from the time we were children.
Who was able to watch Indiana Jones without wanting to visit Egypt in search of some uncovered truth or gem from the ages? Who was able to watch the epic Martial Arts films from Asia without wanting to go there and experience what we saw only on TV and in our dreams? Probably no one.
These films and television shows egged us on and inspired us to want to travel, and for more than just a week of lounging on the beach. We suddenly wanted to travel the world in search of more … in search of adventure and understanding.
And perhaps one of the most mysterious places to visit are the abandoned underground cities that are abroad and even in our own backyards. Indeed, there are many forgotten roads, tunnels and living quarters in the States and Canada, and many flock from around the world to get but a glimpse of the rich history that can be found in the depths under the streets we walk every day.
Join us here at The Travel for an in depth look at some of the most amazing underground cities and tunnels where you’re sure to find adventure, history and at times, the chills and thrills you seek when heading out on vacation.
So, get the old lantern working and follow us down into the depths.
30 UNDERGROUND CITY IN BEIJING, CHINA
Historically, the reasons for building tunnels is quite common from town to town. Despite their many differences and geographical locations, these cities and towns all shared one common bond, survival. These locations needed to survive and at all costs and no matter what the price.
Whether for preservation or for necessity, these underground locations thrived.
As for Beijing, pictured here, the underground tunnels were also built a very long time ago and for the sake of survival should something bad be unleashed.
29 LABYRINTH OF EGYPT
And of course when talking about multi-layered and complicated underground cities, how can we forget to mention the wonders of Egypt and all of the subterranean treasures that the pyramids and the areas provide?
You don't have to be Indiana Jones to get excited about Egypt. Many tourists have flocked to the area to get a glimpse at all the wondrous sights, and a detailed look, for those able to stay longer.
If you can swing it, we recommend a longer stay as there is indeed so much to see.
But the underground city itself is more of a mystery as many have doubted its existence. Many still say that it does exist, but the Egyptian government has banned entry to its depths.
28 BENEATH THE STREETS OF PORTLAND, OREGON
Known as the Shanghai Tunnels, this underground location in Portland has attracted many travelers to its depths. And if for nothing else, it's a rather mysterious and historic location, so tourists can get a bit of both here, a little mystery and a tad of education about the distant or not so distant past, whichever way you look at it.
The place is huge. The networking tunnels snaking beneath the modern day city above. Formerly full of businesses and even living quarters, the place was a hotbed of activity during prohibition.
According to io9.gizmodo.com, the name Shanghai comes from the fact that soldiers who frequented the bars below were actually sedated by mysterious strangers and "Shanghaied" onto ships the following morning!
27 BASILICA CISTERN - ISTANBUL, TURKEY
These days, deep beneath the surface of Istanbul, the old cisterns were built right under Topkai Palace. According to iexplore.com, these cisterns were built during the time of Constantinople. While the Romans ruled the area, the cisterns were used for water.
The site can be visited today and according to many who have visited, it's definitely a sight and almost a direct passage to history, travelers transporting themselves back in time as they walk or wading through ancient pillars.
This location and many others on this list are preserved far better than anything on the surface of the earth, so if you really want to get a sense of the past, you need to go underground.
26 ABANDONED CITY BRANCH RAILWAY TUNNEL - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
The city of Brotherly Love is also home to some gorgeous tunnels of their own, and beneath the city lies a derelict set of complex tunnels that wind throughout the territory below the city streets.
The main portion of the "City Branch" railway tunnel runs for a complete 15 blocks down Broad Street.
Many thrill-seekers flock to Philly in hopes of going beneath the surface for but a glimpse of the old tunnel. According to thrillist.com, the city has plans for the tunnel, but they are unsure whether they should reinstate the tunnels or tear them away.
25 COOBER, PEDY, AUSTRALIA
What's definitely interesting about this location, is that it's still a thriving underground city, and all because its 3,000 or so inhabitants are trying desperately to stay out of the sweltering sun that the area gets.
Built in 1915, the place was built by miners who were tired of the scorching sun, so they decided to build their homes where they worked daily.
The place can sure get hot, but underground, they enjoy temperatures about 20 degrees lower or more.
24 UNDERGROUND CITY - PARIS FRANCE
And to go from one extreme to another, here's a place that's a little more synonymous with the sinister side of life, and it can all be found beneath the city of Paris, France.
If you look closely, the structures, and many of them, that are still beneath the city are made from bones.
The city of romance? Hardly. Especially at these depths. The location is said to be haunted and/or infested by demonic activity, something that was shown in the Hollywood horror film, As Above, So Below--the title itself referencing the infamous satanic credo.
If you ask us, those dark and creepy depths hardly look like a refuge of any sort, but hey, we weren't there then. The location can be visited, but watch your step.
23 JUST BELOW THE CITY OF VIENNA, AUSTRIA
These tunnels also date way back to the Roman Empire, and it was in these depths that many have walked in the annals of time. From nuns, to soldiers, many flocked below the city to hide and to find refuge in tumultuous times.
It is located right under Vienna's beautiful Imperial Palaces, and the tunnels are indeed quite vast.
Contact your travel agent to find out exactly how you can find yourself there beneath the city, as many tours are organized throughout the year.
22 ABANDONED SUBWAY TUNNELS - BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
And we don't always have to go that far back on the timeline to find abandoned underground locations. In fact the beautiful United States have a lot of underground space that served as one thing or another that has gone abandoned and forgotten over the passage of time.
According to thrillist.com, the tunnels are the oldest subway tunnels in the US and once connected Boylston Street to the South End.
Take the subway tunnel system in Boston, Massachusetts, for example. Many daredevils still like to go filming in those abandoned tunnels and there are in fact, many rampant rumors of hauntings within those winding tunnels.
21 MATMATA, TUNISIA
This site was actually always meant to be underground. Local tribes used to dig pits into the earth and lived within their depths when the work was complete.
One day, a hard rain fell, causing the homes to collapse and the people fled to other locations, now preferring to live above ground.
But some of the underground structures made it through the 22 days of rainfall and flooding and are visited by throngs of tourists each year.
20 PETRA - HASHEMITE KINGDOM OF JORDAN
Amidst the forgotten sands of the desert, lies this forgotten city of stone. Perhaps if flying high enough in the air, you're likely to miss it, but if you happen to be walking through the canyons and crevices in the ancient sand, the entrance to the city is unmistakable.
According to National Geographic, this city was once the capital of the Nabataean empire, dating way back in the annals of time, between 400 BC and 106 AD to be exact.
It was once the epicenter for the trading that went down for the empire back then and has been in wait, abandoned and forgotten for long centuries.
19 BARRY TROGLODYTE VILLAGE - RHÔNE, FRANCE
Probably one of the most amazing things to see here is the chapel that protrudes from a cave--early inhabitants of the village built it so, the sight now seeming like an accident or a cause of time, but no, it was intended. It was built in 1706.
It has been said that it was inhabited from the 17th century onward to the early 20th century, which makes it a rather "newer" lost city, but a lost city nonetheless.
It is considered an archaeological site, located specifically near Bollene, Northwestern Vaucluse, France.
18 BENEATH THE STREETS OF MOOSE JAW - SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA
So if you want to take the family on a tour of a pivotal and historic time in the history of the United States, you need to go to Canada, specifically, Moose Jaw Saskatchewan.
Well, it's the site of old school gangster, Al Capone's infamous tunnels. These tunnels were also where he opened speakeasies and even grocery stores to provide for all that worked the tunnels during that time.
Apparently, and according to io9.gizmodo.com, the tunnels were also where Chinese immigrants worked and lived during the 19th and early portion of the 20th centuries.
17 ABANDONED STOREFRONTS - LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS
What is probably one of the most mysterious cases of abandoned towns or cities that are located every now and again, are the ones that are found beneath our modern cities. Beneath the hustling and bustling that goes on everyday, lies a city or tunnels that were once the major arteries of the area, right under our noses.
Such is the case in Leavenworth, Kansas, where some mysterious tunnels were found which even contained some old store fronts.
But what makes the discovery that much more mysterious is the fact that nobody knows what time or period they're from. What were they used for? This and many other questions remain a mystery.
16 DERINKUYU, TURKEY
Now this one's really interesting, because this underground city could actually hold up to 50 000 people or slightly more at one time! The city actually goes a whopping eleven floors beneath the surface.
According to io9.gizmodo.com, it was built in the 7th or maybe the 8th centuries for the purpose of hiding refugees of the era.
The reason there are so many tunnels in Turkey all comes down to the volcanic rock that the area is made of. Apparently it's very easy to carve out. Anyone interested in an underground villa?
15 CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN, COLORADO
This complex of tunnels beneath the mountains in Colorado was once the location for NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command). NORAD has since moved, but the original location was actually built when threats of chaos were and/or seemed rather imminent.
Because of the modernization of technology, the location in Colorado is no longer considered a sure bet to survive such a blast, but people astonishingly still live there.
There are plans to turn the location into a museum, however.
14 FORMER HIDEOUT - BERLIN, GERMANY
A terrible and unfortunate time in the history of Europe and the world. The atrocities committed during this period of time are still felt in the hearts and minds of many in the modern world. Remnants of the era can still be found today in modern Germany where they stand as memories and reminders that the country of Germany has indeed moved on and the sites stand or sit as a place where they have vowed as a people to never return.
Below the Gesundbrunnen Train Station, there is the largest network of tunnels and bunkers of the old regime--the largest in fact, and it contained even an airplane manufacture warehousing bunker.
13 THE SOUTH BRIDGE VAULTS - EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND
These vaults were originally constructed for the needs of local businesses at the time for the purpose of storage.
According to iexplore.com, the tunnels and vaults were then occupied by local slum lords and they made quick work of turning the place into brothels and taverns.
But many of you probably recognize this location as a haunted place that the Ghost Adventures crew visited and filmed at, seeking paranormal activity.
That particular episode made for some very creepy TV, and they did in fact uncover some very mysterious proof of supernatural infestation.
12 WESTERN WALL TUNNELS - JERUSALEM, ISRAEL
If there is one spot on this earth that has the most history and the most precise link to the past--especially the biblical past--it has to be the beautiful territory that is Jerusalem in Israel.
For years, the ancient city has been written about time and time again and is the epicenter for the faith and its history for many religions.
But below the city lies an even more ancient and sacred location.
The Western Wall Tunnels span below the city and many flock to the depths to worship. But probably what is the most amazing thing to be seen below the surface is a temple built by Herod himself more than 2 millennia ago.
11 ABANDONED TRAIN TUNNELS IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Here's a shot of the abandoned train tunnel in the Castro District of San Francisco near 17th Street and Market Street.
This particular tunnel shows a set of unused tracks once you make your way inside, but the complex underground workings of these tunnels spreads far underneath the city. The network of tunnels was home to many criminals in the years and there are in fact many snaking entrances and exits.
You can go there, but getting in deep is rather hard, as there are indeed many rats and other undesirable wildlife you've got to get through in order to see all of them. The entrance is pictured here. All you've got to do is get to Market Street.
10 BENEATH THE BEAUTIFUL STREETS OF BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Located beneath the modern day streets of Brooklyn, New York, these old subway tunnels look more like they should be beneath some European city, as they look rather old and ancient, rather.
But sometimes, the modern day streets of New York are a contrast to what the city used to be. Lest we forget the rich history of the area.
These were built in the 19th century when the use of steam engines was the primary way to power these cars. When it was decided that the steam engine as it was, would no longer be used, then the tunnel was sealed up. Now many flock to get a glimpse of the past.
9 CAVE OF HERCULES - TOLEDO, SPAIN
Hercules was the son of Zeus according to popular Greek myths. He was of superhuman strength and his stories are indeed legendary. Many have believed that the stories are just that--fictional recounting of a man and not at all a superhuman being. But there are still many that believe that these stories are indeed factual.
Many believe that this location, an underground cave found in Toledo, Spain is the location where Hercules lived for a time.
Also, according to oddee.com, the cave was used as a hydraulic supply tank in Ancient Rome.
8 UNDER DALLAS, TEXAS
In the early portion of the 20th century, the tunnels under Dallas and near Fort Worth, Texas, were used to transport materials and the such from Santa Fe Freight Terminal to what was then known as the fashion district.
It has also been rumored that this tunnel as well was used during prohibition, like many of the more Northern tunnels we've already explored.
However, Texans nowadays see the tunnels as a hindrance rather than a historic landmark to be proud of, as the tunnels are haltering possible building development in the area.
7 DETROIT, MICHIGAN
Many of the tunnels found in the States and Canada are and can in fact be considered a nuisance for many citizens rather than the historical treasures they can be in other parts of the world. This is because of the possible limits it puts on the advancement of the city, just like we saw with the tunnels under Dallas.
The reason is that a portion of the local population fight to conserve the historical tunnels while another portion wants to move forward, tearing down the old to make way for the new.
This can be seen in many communities, and it's no different in Detroit, Michigan with the old River Tunnel that makes its way into Canada under the separating Detroit River. Believe it or not, this site is still operational, despite how it looks. It opened back in 1910.
6 KISH, IRAN
Of course many travelers know this location already, as it has been set up as a beautiful modern day location for many to visit and enjoy. But what it is now and what it once was, are two entirely different things.
The underground city is older than 2500 years and goes for about 10,000 square meters according to oddee.com.
In ancient times, the location was used to purify water that was stored there for the dwellers above.
Now, travelers can dine and visit the site--a destination that is rich in world history.
5 MARKET STREET CATACOMBS - INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA
Of all the uses for these tunnels that we've seen, this one, perhaps, remains the most innocent of all.
According to thrillist.com, the space was used for cold storage for the local businesses that rested atop ground level, like markets and other thriving businesses of the era.
The location seems older than it is, essentially 130 years old, and this site too looks like it belongs in Europe rather than the States. But it remains a popular draw for tourists from all over.
4 THE TUNNELS OF CALIFORNIA
Located beneath Los Angeles, these tunnels wind beneath the surface of the modern day location of glitz and glamour. And according to thrillist.com, there are a whopping 11 miles of tunnels down there.
At first the tunnels were used for servicing the city and its needs, but when prohibition occurred, the tunnels immediately were used to supply the area with much needed items. Apparently, the mayor's office at the time facilitated the bootlegging, as there's an elevator located at the Hall of Records that goes straight down to the tunnel!
3 LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
Below the streets of Louisville there lies a wonderland of sorts that thrill-seekers from around the globe can enjoy. The winding tunnels that at one time served as "storage" for the Lakeland Asylum for the Insane is now the place to be if you're in for a little adventure.
Many can walk and trek through the maze-like depths and even a zip line is set up for those a tad more adventurous and unafraid. There are even rope bridges. Tours are set up and organized year round if anyone's interested.
2 SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
These rather ancient tunnels start out at Temple Square and head downtown, uniting with other branches of the tunnels. Officially, the tunnels were said to be used by members of the church for easy crossing into downtown and perfect for avoiding the weather, but mysteriously, the church was rather tight-lipped about what the exact use for them was when asked, according to thrillist.com.
Whatever the use may have been at one time, they remain a pretty creepy set of underground passageways in Salt Lake City, Utah. Interestingly enough, there is a portion of the tunnels that looks to be in decent shape. Who uses it? Good question.
1 CHICAGO'S UNDERGROUND
Talk about a rich history, Chicago's underground city and network of tunnels was used by the bootleggers under Capone's leadership back in the day.
Chicago's network of tunnels was even larger than Brooklyn's, with a whopping six different complete sets winding around down there, according to thrillist.com.
The tunnels had many uses, but the subway system before 1906 in Chicago was all underground. But when the city changed to the now famous L train, (elevated), the tunnels fell in disuse, circa 1906.
Sources: nationalgeographic.com; io9.gizmodo.com; iexplore.com; thrillist.com; oddee.com; ancientpages.com