While many religions have some version of Hell or the underworld, they’re generally seen as spiritual locations, only accessible after death… but not always. Some believe that there are earthly, physical entrances to the Land of the Dead. Stories of doorways, caves, and bodies of water that serve as portals between the normal world and the other world are common across cultures and throughout history. Below are listed five of the most interesting doors to hell, scattered all over the globe…
Located in Southern Turkey, Pluto’s Gate was constructed by the ancient Greeks around the mouth of a cave they believed was a doorway to The Underworld. Priests would sacrifice animals to Hades, the God of the Dead, at the entrance of the small cavern, and in return they would receive mystical visions from the god himself. Birds flying near the cave would fall from the sky, and animals that crawled in never crawled back out.
The deadly and supernatural properties of the cave aren’t a simple a fairytale: Pluto’s Gate is legitimately deadly. Toxic gases emanate from deep within the earth there, granting “visions” to anyone who doesn’t die from inhaling them. Ancient Greek tourists could buy small birds to test how deadly the air was, and the hallucinating priest class sometimes led bulls into the chamber to demonstrate its morbid nature. The Greeks knew how to have fun.
The Cenotes and Caves Of Belize
There are countless entrances to The Underworld in Belize. Just beneath the limestone surface of the earth, a massive network of underground rivers has carved countless miles of caverns through the bedrock of the earth. The ancient Mayans believed that the cave entrances and cenotes (sinkholes) that riddle the land were entrances to Xibalba, the “Place of Fear.”
You can see why: If you got lost in a cavern in Belize, you would not be found again — the cave systems are miles long, and some still haven’t been mapped. Xibalba was said to be ruled by 12 demons, each in charge of a different aspect of Human suffering. To appease them, the Mayans threw gold, pottery and other valuables down sinkholes and into caves.
They also offered human sacrifices: the “Crystal Maiden” seen above was sacrificed thousands of years ago; her calcified bones were found in the cave of Actun Tunichil Muknal near San Ignacio.
The Gates Of Guinee
Located in New Orleans, the Gates of Guinee are said to offer entrance into Guinee, the voodoo land of the dead, for anyone foolish enough to seek them out. While some voodoo practitioners say that the “Seven Gates” are symbolic representations of the seven days after death, others maintain that the gates are actual, physical doorways located in New Orleans’ many graveyards. A seeker who opens all seven gates in the correct order, after appeasing the loas that guard them, will be transported to Guinee.
There seems to be no agreement as to which gates are mystical and what order they must be opened in, but there are a number of maps available, and I’ll bet you could find someone in New Orleans to sell you one… should you wish to risk your very soul on a foolhardy adventure, of course. The problem with comprehensive directions to Guinee is that if anyone ever did open the gates correctly, they would never seen again to write a “how-to” guide.
To add danger to an already stupid journey: Should you mess up the gate-opening order, you might allow the dead to follow you back into the world of the living!
Bloody Hell Pond
Located in Beppu in Japan, “The Hells” are a series of hot springs each with a unique look. Sea Hell is a deep turquoise color. Shaven Monk’s Head Hell is named because the bubbles that bloop to the surface of the thick mud look like a monk’s bald dome. The most heavy metal of all the hells, though, is Bloody Hell Pond.
The iron oxide rich water of this pond appears red, and the geothermal heat keeps it above the boiling point. In other words, it looks exactly like a lake of boiling blood. Is you visit Bloody Hell Pond, don’t go swimming or you’ll be cooked alive.
When you’re finished with the lake of boiling blood, head over to nearby Demon Mountain Hell, where hordes of angry crocodiles await careless tourists.
Gates of Hell in Clifton, New Jersey
I can’t include every supposed portal-to-Hell whispered about in the junior high school hallways of White America, so I picked the one in Clifton, New Jersey as a representative of all suburban hells. Located behind the Black Prince distillery, Clifton’s own Hell Mouth is a twisting series of storm drains painted with satanic graffiti and littered with broken bottles and used condoms. Local legend says there are seven tunnels in all, and they extend for miles underground. The twisty passages supposedly lead first to a demon named “Red Eye Mike,” and ultimately to Satan himself, who waits in the final chamber.
These pitch dark, water-filled tunnels are dangerous in more ways than spiritually: Supposedly, adventure-seeking teenagers occasionally drown while exploring the storm drains, and locals say that a chapter of the KKK meets down there too. I’m not sure what kind of racist crap you can get into at the bottom of a storm drain, but I’m sure the KKK comes up with something.