For many of us, the underworld—Hell, Hades, Xibalba, whatever you call it—is located in a spiritual realm, only accessible to those who have departed this physical world. However, for some people, death isn’t a requirement to enter this terrible place. For them, there are certain areas where one can enter the underworld even if you’re still alive. These places have been dubbed “Gates to Hell” or “Gateways to the Underworld.” We’re going to show you certain places where you supposedly can enter the land of the dead. Be warned: getting out is your problem.
10. Masaya Volcano
Masaya Volcano is located in Nicaragua. When the Spaniards colonized Nicaragua in the 14th century, they dubbed the Masaya Volcano Infierno de Masaya, which translates to “The Mouth of Hell.” At the time, the majority of Europeans had little knowledge about volcanoes and had never witnessed volcanic eruptions. Even the educated ones viewed volcanic activities as some sort of supernatural phenomenon. Furthermore, the Catholic Church once had the notion that all volcanoes were entrances to Hell. Taking this into consideration, it becomes understandable why the first Spaniards who saw the Masaya Volcano gave it the name they did.
Before the Spaniards came, the aboriginal people of Nicaragua viewed the Masaya Volcano as a god. They worshipped it and even made offerings. During droughts, human sacrifices were made. Children were thrown into the volcano’s crater in the hopes that doing so would gain the god’s favor and send them precious rain.
9. The Cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula
The ancient Maya believed in a place called Xibalba, or “the place of fear, the place of cold, the place of danger, of the abyss.” In order for the dead to be with the gods they had to undergo a horrifying journey that involved passing through “rivers of blood” and rooms filled with bats, knives and jaguars. This terrifying gateway to Xibalba is depicted in various sacred mythological texts, such as the Popol Vuh.
Guillermo de Anda, an archaeologist at the University of Yucatan, believes that a series of water sinkholes in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula might be the location of this gateway. The fact that the ancient Maya regarded caves as sacred and viewed them “as portals to the underworld” lead de Anda to strongly believe that the gateway to Xibalba described in the Popol Vuh might have been recreated by the Maya in one of the Yucatan’s sinkholes. After years of research and hard work, he has gathered enough evidences to prove his theory.
Translated as “fear mountain,” Osorezan, or Mount Osore, is believed to be the gateway to Hell by some Japanese. Located in the northern most part of the Aomori Prefecture, Osorezan is an eerie attraction. Despite its reputation as the entrance to the underworld, Osorezan is visited by lots of tourists, both local and foreign. Many areas surrounding this seemingly strange place are visually stunning, such as the Bodaiji Temple and a crimson bridge which is believed to be guarded by two demons.
Osorezan was discovered by a Buddhist monk one thousand years ago. He came upon the volcano while searching for a holy mountain that paralleled that of Buddha’s world. Osorezan became well-known as the Japanese gateway to Hell because its geographical characteristics are quite similar to the Hell described in Buddhist texts. The similarities led many people to believe that Osorezan is indeed the entrance to the underworld.
In 1971, an accident occurred in the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan that resulted in the creation of the Darvaza gas crater, also known as the “Door to Hell.” At the time, the Soviets were exploring the desert for natural gas. An accident caused the ground they were drilling in to collapse, causing the whole rig to fall into the massive hole.
The Soviets were afraid that the accident might cause the poisonous gas trapped in the cavern to be released into the air. To solve the problem, the Soviets came up with a brilliant idea—use up the crater’s whole fuel supply. They lit the hole on fire and waited for several days for it to subside. Unfortunately, their calculations were wrong, and it turned out that the crater had a nearly infinite reservoir of natural gas. The Soviets thought it would only last for a few days, but up to this day the Darvaza gas crater is still burning!
6. Actun Tunichil Muknal
Just like the sinkholes of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Actun Tunichil Muknal in Belize is believed to be another gateway to Xibalba. Photos of the cave’s entrance would lead you to believe that it’s a gateway to paradise. But don’t let its striking beauty fool you, for deep inside this mysterious cave lies evil of immense proportion.
Mayan legends tell of the “nine layers of Hell,” and coincidentally, the Actun Tunichil Muknal has a series of nine chambers. Deep inside this eerie cave lies proof of the Maya’s desperate struggle for survival. The Actun Tunichil Muknal is filled with pots, which are believed to have contained beverages or food given to the gods to appease them. Going deeper inside the cave one would fine human skeletons — lots and lots of them. Experts believe that these people were sacrificed to gain the favors of the gods. What’s surprising is that evidence show that these sacrificed Maya were not all peasants. Some of them came from noble families. It was indeed a desperate time for the Maya. Unfortunately, their sacrifices were futile.
Iceland has many volcanoes, but perhaps the most famous among all of them is Hekla. For hundreds of years, people believed that it was the gateway to Hell or perhaps even Hell itself. This belief prevented people from exploring Hekla. It was only in 1750, when Bjarni Palsson and Eggert Olafsson climbed this feared mountain, that it was proven that Hekla is just an ordinary volcano.
So, why did the Icelandic people think Hekla was the entrance to Satan’s kingdom? The answer is simple. At the time, the Church wanted the public to believe in the physicality of Hell. And the best way to do that was to find places that resembled the description written in the Bible. It just so happens that volcanoes, especially Hekla, fit the bill. Without proper knowledge of volcanic activities, it’s understandable how people, even the most intelligent ones, could conclude that volcanoes like the powerful, magnificent Hekla are entrances to the devil’s domain.
4. Hellam Township
Hellam Township in Pennsylvania is a beautiful place full of waterfalls, lakes, forests and wildlife. However, amidst the beauty that fills this peaceful town lies a dark legend: It’s the location of the Seven Gates of Hell! Thanks to urban folklore, this township has become a place of pilgrimage for satanic cults.
Legend has it that the Seven Gates of Hell are scattered throughout Hellam Township. By passing through these seven portals in the right order, one can enter Hell. It’s believed that only the first gate is visible during the day, while the six remaining gates are only visible at night. Furthermore, some strongly believe that the first gate is located in a private land called Trout Run Road, which is located outside of town. Despite the town’s efforts to invalidate the belief, Hellam Township continues to attract tourists, and they’re not the friendly kind.
3. Storm Tunnels of Clifton
A series of tunnels in Clifton, New Jersey, is believed to be the gateway to hell by many practicing Satanists. This collection of drains was originally built to direct water that flowed from a nearby stream called Weasel Brook. What separates this series of tunnels from others found in the area is that its entrance is square-shaped and the tunnels are, for some unknown reason, dry—no water flows in or out of them.
Nowadays, the tunnels have become a rendezvous point for Satanists. It’s filled with demonic graffiti and dead animal remains. It’s believed that these animals were sacrificed in honor of Satan. Legend has it that there’s a secret passageway that leads to a room deep underground. It’s believed that only those who are possessed by the devil are capable of entering this chamber. Inside the room lies a glowing human skull, which is believed to be the symbol that one has entered Hell and is about to meet Satan.
2. Pluto’s Gate
Also known as Plutonium or Ploutonion, Pluto’s Gate in Pamukkale, Turkey, was once believed to be the gateway to the underworld by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Pluto’s Gate is a small cave near Apollo’s temple in the ancient city of Hierapolis. Despite its small size, it was feared and revered because it was deadly. It contained poisonous gases capable of killing anyone in an instant! It’s the lethal properties of Pluto’s Gate that led the ancient Romans and Greeks to associate it with the underworld. However, the deadly characteristics of this cave are not of supernatural origin. Similar places can be found elsewhere in the world. Nonetheless, Pluto’s Gate was perceived as the physical entrance to Hades’ kingdom. It was visited and revered by thousands of pilgrims.
1. Demon House
Earlier this year, Zak Bagans, host of Ghost Adventures, made headlines when he decided to purchase a house in Indiana for $35,000. The house is believed to be a portal to Hell. According to the mother of a family that once lived there, her two children were possessed by the devil. She claimed that she saw her daughter “levitating above her bed” and her son “walking on their ceiling.” Just like other haunted house stories, there are so-called witnesses who can back up her claims.
The family’s supernatural stories made the house famous. The mother tried everything she could to get rid of the demons and close the portal. She hired an exorcist and even built an altar. But nothing worked, so she eventually moved out. Now it’s up to Zak Bagans to discover whether this ordinary home is indeed the gateway to Hell.
Paul Jongko is the operations and marketing manager of MeBook, the newest and groundbreaking app that lets you turn your Facebook into an actual book. You can learn more about this amazing product by visiting MeBook.com today. When he’s not busy working for MeBook, Paul spends his time writing interesting stuff and creating piano covers of popular songs.