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Underground Cities

Fans of underground homes may be fans of underground cities as well. I know I am. Underground cities don't generally bear any resemblance to what we normally think of as a city. Their appearance depends on the purpose for which the complex is used.

Many of these subterranean sites exist - some as underground shelters or refuges, some as secure working environments and others as living or shopping centers.

Underground city in Montreal, Canada

Many defensive fortresses are still in use, having been excavated or tunneled out hundreds of years ago. An underground city may be just a series of tunnels and caverns whose functions have changed over time.

Deep beneath the streets of London, for instance, there are many separate, but interconnected networks of tunnels. Running alongside and intertwined with the sewers and the underground rail system - the Tube - there are government and military establishments, most of which, you won't find mentioned on any maps or drawings.

London Underground ...

It's quite possible (security permitting) to take an elevator down into the bowels of the earth and travel around London, emerging many miles away, having encountered busy offices, workshops and disused stations along the way. You won't find road signs, either, so you'll need to know where you're going when you're down there.

The world's largest (known) subterranean complex is said to be the underground city in Montreal, Canada. Built to enable the city's residents and visitors to go about their normal business during the harsh winter months, there are multiple shopping malls and office blocks interconnected by walkways and rail.

Underground city in Turkey

Access is via train stations and through many entry points around the city at ground level. With restaurants, hotels, cinemas and all the regular retail stores, this is truly an underground city, welcomed by all who use it in cold or wet weather.

Underground cities also evolve for quite the opposite reasons to Montreal's. Take the tiny South Australian town of Coober Pedy. Officially designated as having a hot desert climate, you might wonder why anyone would live there. Well, the promise of riches never fails to attract prospectors and this being the world's opal gem capital, is no exception.

Opal Gangnam Style ...

Opals were discovered there in 1915, and by 1999 the town had acquired over a quarter million mine shaft entrances. Miners found that by adapting their mining skills to boring out dugout caves into the sides of the hills, they could live in constant, year-round comfortable temperatures.

Humans are nothing if not resourceful when it comes to putting a roof over their heads. You can usually build your home using locally available natural materials - wood, stone, mud, straw, ice, for example. In the Cappadocia region in Turkey, trees are a scarce resource but there is an abundance of rock. This rock is fairly strong but also soft enough to work easily. For this reason, the people in the area, going back thousands of years, have hewn caves from the stone to make their homes. This is understandably a popular tourist attraction for visitors to Turkey.

Underground cities, by their very nature, are difficult to map. In most cases, if you could see a transparent view of the area, it would look like a giant ant hill built by a huge colony of ants. Pictured is a futuristic concept of what I am talking about.

Underground city concept

But, historically, because many of the underground complexes have evolved over long time spans, they contain forgotten, or secret interconnecting paths and tunnels to other similar systems, so we will probably never know the full extent of many of them.

When people think of underground cities in the United States they usually speak of Chicago and Seattle as two examples. But in America there are over a dozen underground cities in the North, South, East, West and Midwest regions.

External Links

For a list of underground cities around the world check out this Wikipedia entry: