From a cliff face in Cadiz to Luke Skywalker’s ‘home’, here are the strangest subterranean spaces across the globe.

Ville Souterraine
Montreal, Canada

A vast city is hidden under the streets of Montreal. To get an idea of the scale, the underground network is connected by 20 miles of tunnels which lead to shopping malls, metro stations, office spaces, universities, banks and even residential complexes. This huge underground community offers Montreal residents and visitors respite from the harsh -25 degree winters.

Image by GPS

Wieliczka Salt Mine City
Poland

Wieliczka’s immense salt mine is impressive enough as just a mine. Add in the fact it has an underground lake, a cathedral and chapel – alongside its underground city – and you begin to understand why over a million tourists a year travel to see it. Everything in Wieliczka is made from salt – from the chapel to the ornate statues, with much of it being handcrafted over the last 700 years. Even the chandeliers that hang from the ceilings were made by refining rock salt to make it resemble crystal.

Image by Klearchos Kapoutsis

Coober Pedy
Australia

Coober Pedy’s residents overcome the inhospitable environment of the Australian outback by living underground. The solution to escaping the 104 degree summer heat was discovered by opal miners – they used old mines to shelter from the sun and started to dig out new areas for homes. With no need for air conditioning the underground homes are eco-friendly and some are reported to have luxurious extras, including an underground swimming pool.

Image by Matthieu Chatry

Null Stern Hotel
Teufen, Switzerland

With the cold war becoming an increasingly distant memory, Switzerland found itself with a glut of nuclear bomb shelters. Each town had to have one by law but now they are starting to fall into disrepair. But thanks to two artists (Frank and Patrik Riklin), this 1980s bunker in Teufen was transformed into the world’s first zero star hotel. Guests stepped through thick bombproof doors into rooms with no natural daylight or windows, slept on basic beds and endured a bleak existence during their stay. Now converted into a museum, you can tour the hotel while the brothers plan their next zero star venture.

Image by Künstlersohn

Matmata
Tunisia

Star Wars fans might recognise the unusual landscape of Matmata. The Tunisian town and underground Bedouin huts were home to Luke Skywalker in the George Lucas movie franchise. Want to see where Luke grew up? Pay a visit to Matmata and stay in the Sidi Driss Hotel. Built centuries ago, the hotel has five ‘pits’ – one of which is the hotel’s restaurant and is named the Star Wars pit. The huge interest in the area has boosted tourism and conservation works have been undertaken on the hotel so it stays as it appeared in the movies.

Image by Dennis Jarvis

Setenil de las Bodegas
Cadiz, Spain

Around 3,000 residents in this small Spanish village quite literally live under a rock. The facades of their homes are all that’s visible along the narrow gorge in Cadiz. The rest of their houses lie deep in the rock face. Like many other underground cities, this unusual construction method is used to take advantage of the natural shelter from the weather. As well as homes, restaurants, shops and bars all line the gorge.

Image by manuelfloresv

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