This post may contain affiliate links - I may make commission from any purchases

A little while ago, I wrote a post about the Hollow Earth theory and ideas that there were actually civilisations existing within the planet, under our feet.  While this is definitely one of the more ‘out-there’ theories that I have run into it led me to another associated subject that is a little more plausible.  It involves the possibility that our ancestors lived in subterranean cities and that the remains of these cities can still be found around the world.

Subterranean fascination

subterranean cities

Enthusiastic person exploring a Hawaiina lava tube

People’s fascinating with tunnels and underground areas seems to go two ways – they are either terrified by them or fascinated by them.  Look at the number of people who spend their time crawling through tunnels and seeing where they go, thrilled when they find a new cavern or a water source.  Then there are the others who are mortified at the idea of even walking into the entrance of a tunnel or a cave (my Mum is one of them – she’s claustrophobic!)

Going one step beyond scientific exploration is the belief that some of these tunnels and caves were once home to our ancestors.  Now cave drawings from prehistoric times show this to be true but there are stories that indicate something more advanced that this, as well as more recent and even hint at the possibility that this occupation is still taking place.

California’s Subterranean Cities

One of the places mentioned most often in connection with subterranean cities is the US state of California.  Okay, there isn’t much paranormal, supernatural or strange that isn’t somehow associated with this fascinating area.  But these stories are quite specific.

Back in 1985, an article was published in the Search magazine that was said to be an interview with a high ranking Naval officer.  He told of the discovery of a network of tunnels under California and other parts of the west coast that were large enough for submarines to travel through.  These tunnels were just off the continental shelf and stretched for several hundreds of miles.

The report went on to say that the San Andreas Fault isn’t a fault but actually where areas of these tunnels have collapsed or are collapsing.  It also claimed that a submarine went missing while under the state investigating these tunnels – according to records there have been two submarines that went missing in strange circumstances, the USS Thresher and the USS Scorpion.

Finally, the report added that some areas of the state are actually floating on the ocean and this is why when an oil company began pumping near Long Beach, the ground began to sink.  It actually dipped down 26 feet before the pumping was halted.

An unrelated story from California details a couple who were looking for petroglyphs near Bishop, California.  They found a hole at the end of a horizontal corridor where a carved face had water pouring from it.  Abruptly, water began to flood out, forcing them to retreat but before they did, they claim to have heard music.

The Grand Canyon

Another location associated with stories of an underground civilisation is the Grand Canyon.  A story in the Phoenix Gazette back in April 1909 detailed the account of an explored called GE Kinkaid who got a surprise while exploring the famous landmark on behalf of the Smithsonian Institute.  Actually, he got a number of surprises.  These include a chamber 1480 feet underground that has numerous passages leading out from it that he likened to the spokes of a wheel.  These led to room that contains artefacts including copper instruments and weapons, unknown to the Native Americans of the time.  There was a crypt containing male mummies and a shrine with an idol sitting cross legged in a Buddha-like posture.

The Hopi who lived in the area were said to believe that their ancestors had lived in an underground city until arguments between factions led some of them to leave their home.  Their chief caused a tree to grow and pierce the roof of the chamber, allowing people to climb out.

Historic cases

An example of a real subterranean city that has been found and excavated is called Derinkuyu in Cappadocia, Turkey.  The city was discovered in 1963 by Omer Demir, who found a hole that led to a steep path.  Excavations later found an entire city under the ground including infrastructure and accommodation for the residents.  It is uncertain who built it and, perhaps more importantly, how they built it.

The city of Orvieto in Italy doesn’t have a city as such but it does have a labyrinth of caves and tunnels hidden underground that can now be visited and even toured around.  The caves are natural but there have been people living in them as there are over 1200 tunnels, galleries as well as features such as cellars, quarries, cisterns, well and stairs.  There are even spots where the residents roosted their pigeons.


Historic, mythological or simply a great story, the idea of people living in vast underground cities isn’t a new one.  Obviously, some people did and how common this was is uncertain.  But perhaps the most interesting question is this – how did they construct them or alter the caves with the technology of the time?