Meandering the streets of a new city is a great way to feel the pulse of a place, but have you ever considered what's right below your feet? These 13 underground man-made attractions scattered around the globe boast spectacular histories as former dwellings, burial grounds, and even smugglers' tunnels. Plus, they're more than a little creepy. You'll want to make sure you dress warmly for all of them (no matter when you visit), and be sure to arrive armed with a steely constitution.
Photo Credit: Mikhail Markovskiy/Shutterstock
Where: Istanbul, Turkey
Riding a wave of popularity as a pivotal setting in the new Dan Brown book Inferno, the Basilica Cistern is an awe-inspiring historical sight. Built in 532 AD, the cistern was used to store water for the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings. The cistern, located near the Hagia Sophia, has a capacity of 100,000 tons of water, although today the bottom is only filled with several feet of water. Supported by 336 eerily lit marble columns, the cistern commands a majestic presence as you walk along the raised wooden platforms and see the fish swimming smoothly through the shadowy water. Make sure to check out the popular and mysterious Medusa head pedestals whose origin and orientation continue to baffle experts today.
Plan Your Trip: Visit the Fodor's Istanbul Guide
Photo Credit: observe.co/Shutterstock
Where: Paris, France
In the late-18th century, Paris had a dire public health problem due to the large number of unburied corpses. Parisians sought the solution underground in quarries that had supplied to rock to build Paris. Six million skeletons were exhumed and arranged in the catacombs, which are as deep as a five-story building, and include artistic arrangements of skulls and bones such as giant urns made of skeletal remains. Although much of the 200-mile network is out-of-bounds to the public, the 45-minute tour is a great peek. Make sure to arrive early, as the attraction is incredibly popular.
Plan Your Trip: Visit the Fodor's Paris Guide
Photo Credit: Joe Wolf
City Hall Subway Station
Where: New York, New York
For a ghostly architectural gem in New York City, hop on the 6 train and stay on past the Brooklyn Bridge stop. As the train loops around you'll pass by gorgeously decorated arches, skylights, intricate colored glass tilework, and burnished brass light fixtures in the now-unused City Hall station. The station was opened in 1904 and was meant to be the crown jewel of the new subway, but due to low traffic numbers and an unsafe gap at the platform, the station was closed in 1945. The mystique and spooky, abandoned beauty of this hidden jewel is well worth the train ride.
Plan Your Trip: Visit the Fodor's New York City Guide