Most religions and mythologies feature the concept of an underworld, where the souls of sinners are banished. Some believe that the afterlife is a spiritual place reached after death – but others have thought that hell can be reached more directly through an entrance on Earth.
Actual beliefs in the afterlife have differed from culture to culture, based mostly on geographic location.
Atlas Obscura collected a series of these purported gates to hell – and some of their locations are somewhat surprising.
1 – The seven gates of hell in Hellam Township, Pennsylvania
The gate is believed to be located in the forest off Trout Run Road. There are few various stories as for its origin, but one of the legends states that there are seven gates you have to pass through to end up in the underworld. Though during the day only one stays visible.
2 – Hekla, Iceland
Cictercian monks used to spread the tales about “Hekla Fell”, and locals confirm that witches gather around the volcano’s peak at Easter.
3 – Chinokie Jigoku in Beppu city, Japan
The city of Beppu has nine hot springs, all the of them differ in color, but only one is considered to be a hell-ish pool due to its red color (the result of iron oxide deposits) – Bloody Hell Pond. It is even guarded by the sculpted demons.
4 – Cave of the Sibyl in Naples, Italy
You can find the first references of the cave in Virgil’s poem The Aeneid. He described it as a cave with hundred entrances that bring you beneath the Earth. And it was actually discovered in 1932 by archaeologist Amedeo Maiuri.
5 – Pluto’s gate in Denizli Province, Turkey
The site has been recently discovered and it has toxic fumes coming from the tunnel beneath which according to the Greek philosopher Strabo “any animal that passes inside meets instant death”.
6 – St. Patrick’s purgatory in Lough Derg, Ireland
The small monastery founded in 15th century has its own legend: when St. Patrick visited the island, he was sent visions of the torment of hell by Jesus. And later on, the cave where he was in was told to be the entrance to the hell. That’s why the monastery was built on top to cover it.
7 – Lacus Curtius in Rome, Italy
There is a small stone in the heart of the Roman Forum which was believed to be the entrance to the underworld. According to the legend Marcus Curtius gave his life to safe Rome from falling by riding his horse into a pit that opened inside of the Forum.
8 – The Gates Of Guinee In New Orleans, Louisiana
Voodoo mythology says that recently dead people are sent to a purgatory known as Guinee. Some do believe that the gates exist on Earth at the crossroads of Canal and Basin Streets in French Quarter.
9 – Cape Matapan Caves in Cape Matapan, The Mani, Greece
Ancient Greeks believed this was the entrance to Hades and the one that Orpheus used to travel to save Eurydice. You can even enter the cave today, but in order to pass through the mouth of the hell gate you need a boat.
10 – Fengdu City of Ghosts in Chongqing, China
This site is more than 2, 000 years old and is connected with the underworld of Chinese mythology. Here you may find dozens of statues of demons and ghosts.
11 – Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave in Tapir mountain nature reserve, Belize
Mayans used to believe it was an entrance to Xibalba, their underworld.
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