Underground constructions and tourist destinations | Sunday Observer

Underground constructions and tourist destinations

27 November, 2022

There are many underground constructions done for various purposes, and such constructions can be found in several parts of the world. Underground constructions, often done for security reasons, can be considered as incredibly technologically advanced structures. Most of such constructions, which had been left unused in the past, have now become popular tourist destinations, which are visited by thousands of tourists.

Underground cities

There are several underground cities in Turkey’s Cappadocia province, but the Derinkuyu underground housing complex is considered to be a unique construction among them. It is believed to have been built in the eighth century BC to house refugees during times of war. Consisting of eighteen storeys, it housed everything such as windows, wells, kitchens, classrooms, oil stores, baths and wineries. It is said that around 20,000 people could have been accommodated there at a given time. Originally built by a local community, this city fell into the hands of the Christians during the Byzantine period. They have also expanded it by building structures like chapels and studios. Although it is a place with a long history, it was discovered in 1960.

Located in northern France, the underground city of Nours is another important underground structure in France. Composed of nearly two miles of tunnels and three hundred rooms, it is located about 100 feet below the ground. Historians have speculated that this was a construction done in the third century BC. It was used as a hiding place during the wars and various invasions during the medieval period. It is said that about 3,000 people could stay there, and all the elements including churches, stables, wells, bakeries were located there. It was closed for centuries and reopened as a tourist destination in the 19th century.

A massive underground church complex of rooms, passageways and statues, located near Krakow, Poland, was discovered recently and it dates back to 1200 AD. At first, the people who lived there dug the ground for salt rock mining, and later built this church, which is located about 1,000 feet below the ground. They have used the crystals to create various statues and wall carvings. There is also a replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’. The mining activities of this mine, which took place for 700 years, ended in 2007. Since then, it has become a very popular tourist destination in Poland.

The construction of the Lalibela underground church complex in Ethiopia, another popular underground construction, was started by a devout king. It is slightly different from a normal underground construction and its most prominent building is St. George’s Church, which is built on a site excavated about 100 feet below ground level. An underground road system has also been built from there to go to other churches. Legend states that it took 24 years to complete the complex of eleven churches. However, historians have shown that its construction took place in several stages over the centuries. Currently, it is said that nearly 100,000 people come to worship this shrine annually, which belongs to the traditional Ethiopian Catholic religion.

Housing complex

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Chinese government decided to build an underground housing complex in Beijing, the capital city of China, in order to protect its people in the event of a war. Called ‘Dixia Cheng’, the underground city was built to house nearly a million people safely for four months.

There were not only houses, schools, hospitals, granaries and restaurants, but also a cinema with 1,000 seats. The city was never used, but it can still be seen intact below the general construction of the city. Most of them are now sealed.

Italy’s hilltop region of Orvieto is well-known for its white wine production. A number of structures like underground wells and ponds can also be seen in this area. In addition, there are more than 1,200 interconnected tunnels.

Historians believe that the cabins that can be seen along the tunnels were used as wine cellars and pigeon nests. In addition, the people of the area have also used the cabins to hide during times of war, especially during the Second World War in the 1940s.

The Burlington Bunker was an underground bunker built on 35 acres of land in the village of Corsham to house high-ranking British government officials in the event of a nuclear attack during the Cold War.

It houses offices, canteens, telephone exchanges, medical treatment centres and a number of bedrooms. This bunker was designed to hold the British Prime Minister and other key Government officials safely in an emergency.