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Link - by Avi Abrams

Urban Exploring at its best

Not many travel guides mention these underground systems, creepy tunnels and enormous caverns, located sometimes right under our feet. Most were originally classified (no doubt by Sector Seven), and only recently open to the public. Some are still impossible to enter (due to blocked access points) and hard to explore in their entirety (due to the lost or confusing documentation). But this is where the "spirit of adventure" comes in, as multitudes of amateur photographers descend into the unknown to bring back evidence of things unseen.

1. Abandoned Salt Mine, Romania

We'll start in Cluj County, Romania. The following epic photographs were taken by Marius R. inside the old closed Turda Salt Mine
(Google Earth coordinates: Lat: 46°33'51.92"N - Long: 23°46'7.22"E)
(Middle-Earth coordinates: Mines of Moria) - click to enlarge images.

The closed mine has long tunnels, and a deep natural cave. The excavations dug a huge artificial cave, in which you could fit three 10-story blocks. Marius says: "you can play football inside of them; and you enter there by bus".

(images credit: Marius R.)

2. Top Secret Soviet Underground Submarine Base

Area 825 (built between 1957 and 1961) -
A huge system of tunnels, filled with water - bringing to mind somewhat apocalyptic (or Half-Life) images; this once was the ultimate secret Soviet nuclear submarine base, maintenance & repair facility. So secret it was, in fact, that the whole town around it was classified and erased from the map.

Ten kilometers east of Sevastopol on the Black Sea Coast, the town of Balaklava was closed to the rest of the USSR, and even family members needed special clearance to visit there. After collapse of the Soviet Union the base stayed operational only until 1993, when all nuclear warheads were removed - and in 1996 the last submarine left the base. Today the place is open to visitors, but the bulk of it is hidden and probably holds more secrets than Russian officials care to reveal. (Photos by Russos, with permission.)

Built 126 meters deep underground, the Project 825 also served as a nuclear shelter for 3000 people; it could hold up to nine nuclear submarines at one time; the length of the underground tunnel - half a kilometer, water 9 meters deep.

The cart shown on this photograph was used for transportation of nuclear bombs to the loading area. Next photo - the "Holy of Holies" - Nuclear Weapons Storage Room. Note the reinforced doors (weight 16 tons each):

Entering the Submarine Channel:

See more pictures of it here.

Submarine Fuel Storage Room: (more pictures of that structure here)

(image credit: Sergei Antsupov)

Apparently Russians can build underground structures and tunnels very well (witness the superb Moscow Metro system). This experience will prove handy when another mega-project takes place: The longest tunnel from Russia to Alaska. According to a preliminary report this tremendous undersea tunnel would contain a high-speed railway, highway and pipelines - all 64 miles of it.

3. Cincinnati's Abandoned Subway

Over in America, there are decaying underground spaces on a huge scale, as well.
This Cincinnati Transit site documents all the structures and stations of this unfinished subway transit system, built from 1920 to 1925. Fully seven miles of tunnels, bridges and stations were abandoned in the end, no track was ever put in, and no passengers ever rode the trains.

Three underground stations still exist, but the above-ground structures were demolished, leaving only a few barely-visible access points into the vast underground territory.

One such entry point:

Map of a hidden subway line (one of many):

A similar tunnel system (but build in the 70s) runs underneath downtown core in the city of Calgary, Canada. The LRT (Light Transit System) line was meant to run underground, but the plans were shelved for the financial reasons. There are a few doors in Calgary leading to this explorer's playground, to tunnels wide enough for rush hour traffic.

4. G-CANS: Tokyo Storm Water System

Here is something truly enormous, worthy of Japanese crazed super-scale imagination - vast caverns and otherworldly columns (looking like some kind of a temple) under Tokyo - an infrastructure "built for preventing overflow of the city's major waterways and rivers during rain and typhoon season".

Brainchild of Japan Institute of Wastewater Engineering Technology (JIWET), this "sci-fi"-like installation consists of "five 32m diameter, 65m deep concrete containment silos, connected by 64 kilometers of tunnels 50 meters deep underground. The system is powered by 14000 horsepower turbines which can pump 200 tons of water a second into a nearby river." See more pictures of this incredible place here and here.

(images copyright: 2005 EDOGAWA RIVER OFFICE)
Further sources: 1, 2, via

No matter how complex and well hidden underground structures are, dedicated urban explorers are proving that they can - and will - penetrate any mysterious catacombs and come out with spectacular reports.



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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in/near Cincinnati & have been dying to explore the subway!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go and explore the subway then.

Anonymous Stampede City Gal said...

OK I call hoax on that Calgary abandoned subway pic. I lived there during the 70s and early 80s during LRT construction (C-Train) and although there is one short underground portion soth of downtown (Cemetery Hill), there were never any tunnels built under the downtown area, all the lines were planned from the outset to run along the 7th avenue Transit Mall.

I have a hard time figuring out where in Calgary that alleged photo is from, there are no obvious identifying landmarks. Source?

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

there are no photos... but local explorers keep speaking about that. The information is suppressed for obvious reasons.

Anonymous Tangle said...

The information about Calgary's tunnel under downtown can be found in the book "Calgary- Secrets of the City". I would list author and publisher but alas my books are packed at the moment

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stampede city gal..... I have lived here all my 32 years and in fact the tunnels do exist. If you go to the alderman's level of city hall parkade, there is a steel ladder. This descends to below the parkade, where the ORIGINAL plans for part of 7th ave c-train lines run. You can do a search and find them. There has been some hoopla about what to do with this vast amount of opens space built below the existing lines. There have even been suggestions in the Calgary herald about using it as part of the Downtown Public library!

If you have ever ridden the c-train just as you leave the Victoria park train station and head into downtown it is a very short, but completely underground section(before the cemetery which is south of the Erlton station) As you are surfacing, you can plainly see where the tunnel was suppose to branch into two, where it would connect UNDER city hall, not go around it as it does now.

look into it....

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Undernead the city of antwerp in Belguim are also kilometers of subway that arent in use.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a very cool documentary about abandoned spaces:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article - had the privilege of seeing a few of these places.

It's hard to qualify the Cincinnati tunnels - they're simply just an abandoned platform with some tunnel stubs - not in the league of GCans!

I tender one of the most amazing, the Niagara Falls tunnels ['confluence']


NY's abandonned subways legs also rate a mention

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you for these links... by the way the last link's not working.

Blogger Ced said...

Cool, I was there in Balaklava, it's open for visitors, I took about the same pictures :)

Anonymous Dan said...

This looks so much like Half-Life 2

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this site, London underground lost stations would make a great addition to this list. Some stations can be glimpsed whilst travelling in on the central line [they still have the original posters etc when they were sealed up from above]
Fans of all your posts
The Wykeman

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is were you see the mother of all abandoned tunnels:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A version of the storm water system can be seen in the game mirrors edge.

Anonymous Calgary teen said...

i agree, where is a tunnel for where they post to make a subway, i always saw the undergound entrence where you enter the tunnel that is beside city call and how there is another patch right there, i never what is it was untill recently

Anonymous friedmandesigns said...

The G-Cans Project (#4 in your list) is truly an amazing achievement - we monkeys do amazing things when we try. However it's 6.4km of tunnels linking the project, not 64km. Beautiful stuff either way and great article.

Blogger Obliterator said...

To visit this places must be an absolutely unreal experience.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Youtube, there is a short news real of the tunnels, Dave Bronconnier take the tour...

Anonymous Anonymous said...


the link for the underground tunnel News video


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