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Secret Hidden Passageways and Tunnels Over Time

Updated on May 20, 2015
Smuggling Tunnel-Gaza Strip
Smuggling Tunnel-Gaza Strip | Source

Hidden passageways have been used by people from popes to gangsters. Hidden passageways are hidden routes that sometimes lead to hidden rooms, at times the passageway allows people to enter and exit a building or city without being seen. Hidden passageways help people evade danger and capture, some passageways are used to smuggle goods, some create magic, and some passageways and tunnels were built by eccentric people.

Secret passageways have hidden entrances that are camouflaged to seem part of a wall and to blend into the buildings architectural features such as a fireplace or built-in bookcase. Some entrances to secret passageways and tunnels are elaborately concealed. Some have openings with a hidden mechanism to open the door to the passageway or tunnel.

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian pyramids used secret passageways built at angles thoroughout the pyramids that were later sealed with heavy stones to protect the burial chambers from tomb robbers.

Avenue of the Dead and the Pyramid of the Sun, viewed from Pyramid of the Moon.
Avenue of the Dead and the Pyramid of the Sun, viewed from Pyramid of the Moon. | Source


Teotihuacan in Mexico is a city from long ago, the oldest building seems to be from about 200 BC and it existed until the 8th century with a population of 200,000 at its peak. It is best known for the huge pyramids of the Sun and Moon. It was a brilliantly constructed city made up of a labyrinth of palaces, temples, houses made of wood and adobe, markets, and a wide central avenue.

A sealed tunnel was found under the ruins in Teotihuacan with chambers that branch off it. In 2013, a tiny robot with camera was lowered into the tunnel under the Temple of Quetzalcoatl near the Pyramid of the Sun and it sent back images of three mysterious caverns off the tunnel.

Only 5 percent of Teotihuacan has been excavated. The culture of Teotihuacan remains a mystery even after about 100 years of exploration in the area. No tomb of a ruler has ever been found at Teotihuacan, which sets the area apart from other pre-Hispanic cultures that deified their rulers. Finding a tomb of a ruler would be a great discovery.

The Passetto viewed from Castel Sant' Angelo
The Passetto viewed from Castel Sant' Angelo | Source

Passetto di Borgo

Passetto di Borgo is an 800m long elevated passageway between Vatican City and the Castel Sant'Angelo. It looks like a mere wall; however it has a secret passage where Popes could escape during bad times. The elevated passageway is surmounted by a battlemented walk. The Passetto di Borgo was constructed in the 13th Century by Pope Nicholas III. Pope Clement VII escaped to safety through the passageway during the Sack of Rome in 1527.

A secret passage in the Bran Castle (Dracula's castle).
A secret passage in the Bran Castle (Dracula's castle). | Source

Bran Castle

In 1927 during renovations to Bran Castle in Transylvania a secret passage connecting the first to the third floors of the castle was discovered. It is a narrow steep stairway that may have been built for spying or evacuation. There is also a secret tunnel that links the founatian in the interior garden to the castle.

Near the bed is an open door, a secret passage through which Marie Antoinette escaped.
Near the bed is an open door, a secret passage through which Marie Antoinette escaped.

Royal Palace at Versailles

In 1789, a crowd of demonstrators marched to the Royal Palace at Versailles.Some of the demonstrators got into the Queen's quarters and Marie Antoinette escaped by way of a secret passage.

Mikhailovsky Castle
Mikhailovsky Castle | Source

Mikhailovsky Castle

Mikhailovsky Castle is a castle built by Tsar Paul I. It was built to protect the Russian Tsar with massive walls and water all around the castle and drawbridges with gun emplacements overlooking the drawbridges. There were tunnels built under the Field of Mars to the barracks in case troops were needed in the castle. Paul I had a secret passageway built into the hallway outside his bedroom to enable him to escape if assailants got past the castle's security measures. Forty days after Tsar Paul I took up residency in the castle he was murdered in his bedroom by a group of conspirators. He was never able to use his secret passageway.

 The underground picture gallery at Welbeck Abbey.
The underground picture gallery at Welbeck Abbey. | Source

Welbeck Abbey

In the mid 19th century, the 5th Duke of Portland in Great Britain constructed massive underground rooms and tunnels beneath Welbeck Abbey. The underground rooms and tunnels include a 76m library and a great hall 160 feet (49 m) long and 63 feet (19 m). The tunnels that join the complex of rooms are wide enough to accommodate a horse and carriage.

H.H. Holmes' Castle
H.H. Holmes' Castle

The Murder Castle

Dr. Henry Howard Holmes was one of the first documented American serial killers. In the 1800s, after the arrest of H.H. Holmes in his house architectural oddities were discovered; hidden staircases, trap doors, sliding walls, false floors, a 'chamber of horrors' in the basement and more oddities.


Mont Sainte-Odile

Mont Sainte-Odile monastery dating from the 7th century is perched 2,500 feet up in the Vosges mountains in France. In 2003 rare and ancient books started disappearing from the library even through the room was locked and off limits to the public. Police were called in and they discovered one of the bookcases in the library swung back to reveal a hidden passageway. After installing a security camera a local teacher was caught stealing the books. The teacher found a map in the city archives that showed secret stairways and passages in the monastery. To enter the monastery he would climbed over the exterior monastery wall, enter the hidden stairway that led to a hidden passageway with a swinging bookcase and the he would enter the library. 1,000's of the monastery's books were found in the teacher's apartment.


In the 1920s during prohibition some speakeasies had secret passageways which led to stairways down to ground level, to bring liquor into the building and as a way for people to escape when the speakeasy was raid by the police.


Train Track 61

Below the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Manhattan is a long abandoned, once secret train platform. The train platform allowed President Franklin Rossevelt and other VIPs to enter and exit the hotel secretly. FDR's private train car is still down on the tracks. It has been there since the 1940s, it is painted blue, has bulletproof glass, and special suspension to support the president’s paralyzed lower body.

Củ Chi Tunnels
Củ Chi Tunnels | Source

Cu Chi Tunnels

Secret tunnels and passages have been used by guerrilla fighters during war to attack their enemies and transport supplies. During the Tet Offensive in Vietnam the Cu Chi tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) were used for troops and supplies. The Cu Chi tunnels are an immense network of underground tunnels built during the 1940s with a total length of over 200km. The tunnels contained sleeping areas, wells, medical facilities, and kitchens.

Disney World Tunnels

The story is that one day while strolling through the park, Walt Disney saw a Frontierland cowboy walking through Tomorrowland. He decided that in Disney World some items would be hidden. The tunnels are called utilidors.Tunnels under the Magic Kingdom orientate from Cinderella's Castle and spread out like spokes from a wheel. The tunnel complex consists of walkways, meeting rooms, computer rooms, the Digital Animation Control System, and a AVAc system. The AVAC system uses an innovative underground system to empty the garbage cans. compressed air speeds garbage to a centralized processing system. That is why you never see employees emptying the garbage cans around the Magic Kingdom.

Because of the ground in Florida the tunnel complex was not placed underground. It is the first level of the park. Some of soil from the excavation of the Seven Seas Lagoon was used to cover part of the tunnel complex. When you walk on Main Street USA you are walking on the second and third floor of the Magic Kingdom park with the utilidors beneath you.

A drug smuggling tunnel discovered inside a warehouse near San Diego.
A drug smuggling tunnel discovered inside a warehouse near San Diego. | Source

Smuggling Tunnels

USA authorities have discovered smuggling tunnels leading into the USA from Mexico and Canada. In 2005, authorities were alerted by a neighbor noticing large-scale construction activity, USA and Canadian authorities discovered a tunnel being built between British Columbia and the state of Washington. Custom officials secretly installed video and audio devices in the tunnel. Upon the tunnel's completion officials recorded packs of marijuana smuggled through the tunnel. A house was raided and three men were arrested in Seattle, Washington.

Tunnels were found in California and Arizona that were used to smuggle drugs and people illegally into the USA. A few of the tunnels found had its own lighting, ventilation system, and tracks and trolleys for transporting drugs.

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One tunnel found in California was half a mile long. It linked a house in Mexico, went under the USA/Mexico border, to a warehouse in San Diego, CA. This was a sophisticated advance tunnel with 20 tons of marijuana worth millions of dollars.

Along country borders smuggling tunnels have been unearthed. A smuggling tunnel between the Ukraine and Slovakia was discovered in 2012. This tunnel had its own train and was used to smuggle cigarettes. Tunnels have been used to smuggle hashish from Egypt into Israel. Smuggling tunnels have been discovered on the Egypt-Gaza border. On the southern coast of England are legends of smugglers' tunnels. Some of the legends are plausible, such as the tunnel at Hayle in Cornwall does seem to have been built for smuggling. While some smuggler tunnel legends seem feasible some of the tunnels have turned out to be fissures in the rock or storm drains. Smuggling tunnels have been used throughout time to smuggle goods, store stolen goods, and smuggle drugs and people illegally into and out of countries.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Very interesting for general knowledge, I was more looking for ancient / alien underground cities. But this was a nice by-stop. Thanks!

    • EsJam profile image


      4 years ago from Southern California

      I found your hub so interesting! I was intrigued by Teotihuacan...the video gave some great footage. The Murder Castle gave me chills. I never knew about the Disney World tunnels! I'd heard about the tunnel from Mexico, but never saw footage on it.

      Thank you for sharing. I'll keep an eye out for more interesting hubs! Essie.


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