The Egyptian pyramids with mummies perfectly preserved or the underwater Terracotta Army of the emperor, Qin Shi Huang- some rarest of rare things exist in different parts of the world. Such places hold historical relevance, carry traditional heritage while others are purely eerie. Precisely, the world is full of many such secret surprises, which deserve to be on the travel lists of every ardent site explorers.
Around the world, there are places, which can leave anyone baffled and bemused by their construction, history, or architecture. Some of these marvels in the world are hidden in unexplored places, where probably someone can never imagine venturing. Among other parts, Europe has the world’s most intriguing and secret passageways. In the medieval period, passageways and tunnels were built to house people. Also, carry out business activities and serve as storage houses. Additionally, the passageways were also used as secret travel ways. Through these, soldiers moved from one location to another during wartime. Transportation of heavy artilleries was also carried out through these passages.
Some of these passageways are still operational with people working in them. Also, some have been kept as museums or exploration spots for tourists. Others are merely vacant, sitting quietly in the sands of time as relics of the past.
Let us have a look at these underground passages present in different parts of the European continent.
Tokaj Wine Region (Hungary):
A wine region with historical relevance, Tokaj Wine Region is vast in size. About 5500 hectares of land are planted with wineries. Also known as the Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region, this area has 30 villages, having its own winery with each. Grape varieties like Kabar, Zeta, Yellow Muscat are cultivated here in an underground cellar. This underground cellar was said to have built around 1400 AD. This region produces among the world’s finest wines. It is also the place of origin of Botrytis wine.
The wine barrels are kept in long queues inside the cellar. These traditional cellars were made of bricks and well lit. The temperature inside the cellars is usually 10 or 12 degrees while the walls have mold which helps keep the moisture inside the cellars, intact. As per the historical experts, Slovakians and Ruthenians have cultivated in the wineries since the 12th century. And while visiting Hungary, Tokaj Wine Region is an ideal place to witness the winemaking tradition of Europe. A small portion of the Tokaj Wine Region is also shared by Slovakia through a treaty. Visiting the wine cellar can be a soul satiating experience.
Pilsen Historical Underground Brewery Museum (Czech Republic):
Built in the 15th century, the Pilsen Historical Underground Brewery Museum is a 12.5-mile passageway. The passageway is regulated by the government. Thus, visitor entry and tourism is managed by the authorities. Entry into the underground brewery is restricted to not more than 20 people at one time, while children less than three years are not allowed inside. This underground brewery has a cellar, which was used to store beer barrels, ice cellar, water, and finishes with brewery museum. While Pilsen (Plzen in Czech) is a city famous for breweries and has the fourth highest populated city in the Czech Republic.
Edinburg Vaults (United Kingdom):
Situated in Edinburg, Scotland, Edinburg Vaults were built around 1833. Once these underground vaults were housed by cobblers, cutlers, and some tradesmen. They were the workshops of South Bridge businessmen who used them for storage spaces and warehousing purposes. In absence of sunlight and air, gradually, the vaults were abandoned. By the early 18th century, they were emptied since they used to get flooded during downpours in the city.
In the modern era, it was rumored that Edinburg vaults were used for keeping illicit materials. They were later used for carrying out banned activities such as gambling when the conditions of these vaults deteriorated. Later on, they were cleaned and articles of people who made them their home were found. Edinburg Vaults were also rumored to be spooky by people. With rumors of being used by serial killers Burke and Hare for storing human corpses, the Vaults are infamous too.
Wieliczka Salt Mines (Poland):
Located at a depth of 327 meters, Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland dates back to the 13th century. The mines were famous for producing table salt, but the production was halted for mine flooding and other market issues in the Polish town of Wieliczka. It is among popular tourist attractions in Poland with 178 miles long passageway to walk through. The passageway has sculptures made of rock salt, an underground lake, and chapels for visitors to explore. Most old sculptures are made out of rock salt. They were operated by Krakow Salt Mines until 2007 when the production of rock salt was halted. Wieliczka Salt Mines are a prime historical attraction in Poland and are also included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Catacombs of St. Domitilla (Italy):
Emanating Roman glory and architectural brilliance in an era distantly far in time, Catacombs of St. Domitilla is one of the world’s oldest underground burial tunnels. They are also referred to as Catacombe di Santa Domitilla. The location is essentially a Christian cemetery site and is about 16 meters. underground.
From the 5th century onwards, the Catacombs of St. Domitilla were used as burials and has underground Basilica, dedicated to Nereo and Achilleo. An archaeologist discovered the site in 1593 and found this majestically built the underground tunnels. In history, catacombs are places of burial for the remains of human bodies. It was part of ancient Christian culture to bury the dead underground at a commonplace of burial.
The Catacombs of St. Domitilla are made of a special kind of naturally occurring limestone. This limestone is mysteriously absorbent in nature. Since they were discovered in poor condition, the restoration work was carried out to reinstate the lost glory of the Catacombs of St. Domitilla. There are hundreds of ancient era images carved on the walls of the catacombs. The drawn imagery includes Noah’s ark, Adam, Eve, The Good Shephard, apostles Peter and Paul and Daniel with lions.