From the ancient religious texts to the myths of the Ancient Greeks, the legends of the Ancient Egyptians, and the tales of the Ancient Romans, humans have always believed in the existence of a life other than the physical one humans live on earth. The underworld is one of such places believed to be in existence. According to myths and religious beliefs around the world, the underworld is the place where the souls of the dead go and it has always been believed that this destination is under the earth or below the world of the living. It is however important to note that the underworld in many cultures is not entirely evil but just destinations where the dead go to receive judgment for their lives on earth. The most popular of these cultures are those of the Greeks and the Egyptians. In Greek mythology, Hades ruled over this underworld and delivered judgments to the souls that ended up there while in Egyptian myth, Duat was the land of the dead and Osiris was the lord of this Egyptian underworld.
In many religious beliefs, however, the closest resemblance to this world of the dead is a place called hell and in this case, it represents the destination for the souls of sinners. Seeing these similarities in various myths and teachings around the world, one cannot help but get curious about where exactly this so-called underworld is located. Since it is the place where the dead goes, it certainly must be colossal and have many gates. With the quest to know more and hopefully locate this interesting destination, humans have chosen to believe that these locations are actual gates to the underworld. Even though one can visit them, there are severe and sometimes deadly risks involved in trying to discover more than the natural in these locations. Remember – the underworld is an invincible realm and only the dead can enter it.
8. Lacus Curtius, Italy
Located at the heart of Rome in Forum Romanum is Lacus Curtius. This mysterious site in the middle of the Forum is characterized by a slab of ancient stones covering a pit on a spot believed to previously be a lake. Many stories have been told about this location but the most well-known one is that of Marcus Curtius. According to the ancient Roman tale of Marcus Curtius, a prophecy had been revealed that the city of Rome was bound to fall and could only be saved by the sacrifice of Rome’s most precious asset. Marcus Curtius – a young centurion then decided to give his life for the kingdom knowing that the soldiers were Rome’s greatest assets. He then rode with his horse in full armor into the pit which had opened on its own accord to accept the sacrifice.
7. Fengdu, China
Fengdu, also known as the city of ghosts, is a place in China located north of the Yangtze River. According to Chinese legend, this location is the gateway to hell. The town consists of several temples dedicated to the underworld serving as the boundary between the living and the dead. The tales tell that the souls of the dead are led to this location to pass through a series of tests which then separate the pure souls from the wicked souls who are then taken to the underworld.
6. Derweze, Turkmenistan
Tucked deep in a burning hot desert in Turkmenistan is a sight that has been known as the gateway to hell for decades. The creation of this site is accidental and scientific and it all began in the early 1970s when certain soviet geologists decided to search for natural gas in the outskirts of a village in Derweze. In the process of the drilling, the geologists uncovered an abundance of methane gas which began leaking into the atmosphere. Deciding that the gas was poisonous to the earth if it was left spewing out uncontrollably, it was set on fire so the gas would burn off but that fire started in 1971 is still burning today. The site’s location in the middle of the desert, the oppressive temperature characterizing the area, and the view just make this place feel so much like an actual gate of the underworld where a scary creature might jump out of the burning crater one day probably with a pitchfork.
5. Pluto’s Gate, Turkey
Only recently discovered in 2013 by archaeologists, Pluto’s gate to hell was widely recognized as the gateway to the underworld by the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Romans. The main characteristic that fueled this belief is a crack on the site where dangerous mephitic gasses emanated from. These poisonous gasses would instantly end the lives of animals that went close to it. According to ancient stories, this discovery soon led to the sacrificing of animals to the god Pluto by various priests. Soon, however, this opening was blocked with rocks due to the dangers it posed. The site was first located in the ancient Greek city of Hierapolis but can now be found in the Denizli province in southwestern Turkey.
4. Hekla Mountain, Iceland
Hekla – one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes gained the reputation of being the gateway to the underworld after its massive eruption in the early 12th century. Rumors about flying creatures (which were probably birds) around the mountain spread and it was soon proclaimed by the local monks that these flying creatures were the guards to the souls of the most notorious betrayer in history – Judas.
3. Houska Castle, Czech Republic
Houska Castle sits at the top of a cliff in the Czech Republic and its history is just as frightening as its creepy appearance. Its location in a dense forest in one of the most remote parts of Czechia and its lack of occupants makes it even scarier to visit. According to Folklore, there was a large bottomless pit on the spot where the castle now stands. This pit was believed to be the gateway to the underworld and strange creatures would emerge from it in the dark to capture people who were out of their homes during these dark hours and drag them into the pit. The castle was eventually built above this alleged gateway to prevent demons from escaping and torturing locals. Several centuries after the building of the castle, locals revealed that strange sounds and scratching noises could still be heard from within the castle. History also has it that the Nazis occupied the Houska Castle to carry out occultic practices so that’s one more thing that makes this place extremely bizarre.
2. The Cave Of The Sibyl, Italy
The mighty underground complex known as the cave of Sibyl is believed to be the residence of the oracle Cumaean Sybil who was also regarded in Greco-Roman mythology as the guide to the underworld. This cave is located on the outskirts of Naples close to Mount Vesuvius. According to the ancient Latin poem – The Aeneid by Virgil, the cave of the Sybil was the passage where Cumaean Sibyl led Aeneas – the Trojan Hero, through to the underworld and into the green fields of Elysium to seek his dead father’s advice.
1. Cape Matapan Caves, Greece
Cape Matapan was once regarded by the Ancient Greeks as a gateway to the underworld. Located in Mani Peninsula, the cave was said to have been the passage used by Hercules and other ancient characters to enter the Underworld. This site also appealed to the Spartans as a place of worship and they built several temples in the area for their various gods. The ruins of many of these temples can still be seen at the site today and the scenery characterizing the site makes it even more appealing to visit.