5 Gateways to Hell You Can Visit in Real Life

September 9, 2019 0 By William Hollis


For millennia mankind has pondered on what
becomes of the human soul after death. Out of this grew the idea of an underworld
– a dark realm where pain and suffering was guaranteed for those who had sinned during
terrestrial life. Since this world was made for the dead, Hell
was not considered accessible by the living, and was instead a place that could only be
discovered by the spirit. However, there are some locations on earth
which are regarded as entranceways to this otherworld – gates to Hell. Whilst a drainage tunnel may not immediately
inspire diabolical imagery of hellfire and infernal torment, there is one such tunnel
system in the city of Clifton, New Jersey that has a reputation for just that. Off Clifton’s Paulison Avenue, located behind
the old Black Prince Distillery building, lies a storm drain that is known as the Gates
of Hell. Over the years, this drainage system has earned
a reputation for inexplicable, possible paranormal, happenings, including strange sounds and ethereal
“figures running at abnormal speeds”. Not only that, it is rumoured that dark rituals
have been performed in the tunnels. It is for these reasons that the Gates of
Hell drain has attracted the attention of both locals and visiting paranormal investigators. Before one can even get close to the supposed
entrance to Satan’s lair, one must identify the correct way in. As there are many openings into what has been
described as a “maze of drainage tunnels”, it is easy to get lost. Found “in a wooded area down the hill from
a railroad line”, it is the dry, “square shaped entrance” that supposedly marks the
start of the Gates of Hell. From this eerie primary passageway, it is
said that one can access a “network of underground tunnels and storm sewers”, including a secret
room. It is this secret room which local legend
largely focuses on. According to someone who grew up in Clifton,
local people would often “tell stories of people entering these tunnels and never returning”
– most in pursuit of the secret room. Said to be “many layers under the ground”,
this hidden location is described as the penultimate room before entering Hell itself. Only those with the supernatural ability to
lift the “axes that weighed thousands of pounds” which block the door would be able
to enter. Before that point, however, legend dictates
that one must pass through hundreds of feet of underground tunnels, allegedly layered
seven times just like the circles of Hell. These inner tunnels, it is said, are littered
with the remains of ritual offerings – bones, decaying carcasses, crosses and occult graffiti. According to one personal testimony, a summer’s
day exploration of the drain with a friend ended in them fleeing from the tunnels after
they heard “a strange knocking sound” and possibly “someone whispering some chant
deeper in the tunnels”. Another testimony describes having seen “rocks”
being hurled “out of the tunnel with no person visible inside”. On another occasion, they also claimed to
have witnessed “a small human shaped figure run out of the tunnel towards Weasel Brook
Park with superhuman speed”. Regardless of the presence of Satan, those
who have visited the tunnel point out that inside can be an extremely dangerous place. Not only are the tunnels dark, but their very
nature as a storm drain can mean that a seemingly dry tunnel can fill suddenly with water from
the Weasel Brook stream that they provide run-off drainage for. As such, a visit to Clifton’s Gates of Hell
may very well endanger your life in several ways. In Greek mythology, the souls of the departed
travel to the Underworld after death. Sometimes called Hades, in reference to its
patron god, the Underworld is described as a dark, sunless region, located either beneath
the greatest depths of the earth, or at the outer bounds of the ocean. In order to access the Underworld, one must
cross the Styx – Hades’ most prominent river. The ferryman, Charon, is the one to take the
souls which enter the Underworld across the river in exchange for a coin. Those souls who have not received a proper
burial, and are therefore unable to pay the ferryman, are left behind The Christian equivalent of Hades can be said
to be Hell – for both are regarded as the dark counterpart to the bright and holy kingdom
of the gods. And, just like Hell, there have been living
souls – not just the dead – who have gone searching for the entrance to the Underworld. Someone who may have succeeded in locating
an entrance to the Underworld is Robert Paget. In the early 1960s, Robert Paget, a British
doctor working at a nearby NATO airbase, lived in the ancient Roman town of Baiae. Paget was an amateur archaeologist who excavated
in his spare time. It was the enigmatic “cave of the sibyl”
described by Virgil and other classical authors which intrigued Paget the most. The cave, according to mythology, was inhabited
by a prophetess who made an unfortunate deal with the god Apollo. As a young woman, she had promised her most
precious gift to Apollo in exchange for as many years of life as there are particles
in a pile of dust. However, as she struck the deal she made the
mistake of not clarifying that those “years should come with ageless youth, as well”. As such, the sibyl – a Greek term for a prophetess
– aged but could not die. For years afterwards she remained in her cave,
a cave which – as well as providing her with a place to divine the future – supposedly
concealed an entrance to the Underworld. Robert Paget was one of few people who believed
that the cave was a real location, and did indeed contain a gateway to Hades. It had long been said that the Phlegræan
Fields, located on the north shore of the Bay of Naples, close to where Paget lived,
were where the sibyl’s cave could be found. The Fields certainly have a hellish atmosphere,
being situated on top of a collapsed magma chamber of an active volcano. The land is barren and hot, with fire and
sulphurous gases leaking from the ground. It was near to here, where the Fields vanish
beneath the sea, that Paget and a small team of volunteers, over the course of a decade,
excavated what turned out to be an incredible tunnel system. Almost immediately it was obvious to Paget
that the tunnels must have had some sort of ceremonial use. The design was unnecessarily complex for a
solely practical purpose – notches for oil lamps occurred every yard in the tunnels’
lower levels, far more frequently than would have been required merely to provide illumination. The orientation of the mysterious passageway
which marked the entrance to the tunnel system also matched that of the midsummer solstice. Mysteriously, in the deepest and darkest part
of the tunnel system, an underground stream – heated almost to boiling point in places
– was discovered. With a sulphurous cloud hanging over its hot
waters, the stream was reminiscent of classical descriptions of the river Styx. Continuing across the stream, through the
heavy and reeking, sulphurous air, Paget and his team found a steep ascending passage,
which opened into an antechamber. This room was described as a “hidden sanctum”
by Paget. From there, further passageways, with hidden
staircases, led off. Throughout the entire system, passageways
had been blocked with rubble and rocks, making it difficult to appreciate fully the extent
of the tunnels. All in all, the tunnels at Baiae were found
to be immensely complex – with questions as to their purpose and full scope still unanswered. What was the hot, sulphurous stream discovered
by Paget under the ground? And why were there tunnels leading to and
from it? Had he, as he claimed, discovered the sibyl’s
entrance to the Underworld? Around the year 400 BC, the ancient Northern
American city of Teotihuacan was founded. At its height is thought that over 200,000
people lived within its boundaries. Yet, by 750 AD the city had mysteriously collapsed
– it became a ghost town. The reason why it was abandoned has been long
debated. After all, the structures the city’s people
left behind are without a doubt magnificent. In particular there is the pyramid of the
moon, which is one of the oldest structures in the city. Located at the end of the avenue of the dead,
it is connected to the avenue by a large staircase, which leads up to a stage. Upon that platform, lives would have been
offered to the great goddess of the city. She was the deity who governed water, fertility,
the earth, and even creation itself. The offerings were so numerous, that the pyramid’s
foundation is congested with bones. It is beneath this macabre layer that an enigma
can be found. In early 2017, researchers found a subterranean
tunnel that leads to a chamber under the pyramid. It is believed that the tunnel was built to
represent a descent into the underworld, with some even suggesting that the chamber itself
may be a gateway into that realm. This mysterious discovery is still in its
infancy, as no one has yet broken ground to examine what lies beneath the chamber. The structure has, however, been mapped using
electrical tomography. Once researchers begin excavating the site,
it is thought that there may be more mysteries in this underworld. Currently, very little is known about the
mesoamerican people are who built this pyramid and founded the city. It is thought that since this area is largely
untouched, further research and excavation may reveal their secrets in the years to come. However, one cannot help but wonder, if there
was a sinister reason for this underworld having been sealed up – and the entire city
abandoned? Iceland is notorious for its volcanoes. With its high concentration of active volcanoes,
the island has suffered numerous devastating volcanic eruptions since it was first settled
by humans in 874 AD. In 2010, one eruption caused weeks of chaos
and economic turmoil after its volcanic ash cloud grounded planes across Europe, affecting
approximately 10 million travellers worldwide. However, comparative to other historic events,
this eruption was minor. In fact, some of the volcanoes of Iceland
are described as having been so disastrous, that the gateway to Hell itself is rumoured
to be located there. Hekla volcano has erupted at least twenty
times since 874, making it one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes. It was in 1104 that Hekla had its largest
eruption. After having been dormant for over 250 years,
the volcano detonated without warning, covering over half of Iceland with debris. Farms as far as 40 miles away were utterly
abandoned because of the damage. Barely fifty years later, Hekla erupted again. Twice within living memory had Hekla caused
explosive devastation. In the aftermath of these eruptions, rumours
began to circulate across the whole of Europe that Hekla was in fact a gateway to Hell. Fiery pits of lava had long been associated
with the Christian idea of Hell, and so it made sense to many that Hekla’s infamous
fiery pit was connected with this Christian concept. One text in which Hekla is supposedly referenced
is The Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot, thought to have been written around 1120. It describes the famous journeys of the Irish
monastic saint Brendan, who was renowned for his legendary voyage to the “Isle of the
Blessed”. Although Hekla is not mentioned by name, in
chapter thirty-four the author of the text describes an island alight and covered in
smoke. Watching from a distance in a boat, Saint
Brendan and his companions supposedly witnessed several thousand demons, and heard the cries
of the damned. The air was filled with a nauseating stench. Saint Brendan had supposedly seen the place
where the souls of the damned were received. In the next chapter the text continues to
describe how, the next day, the boat came closer. Now they saw a mountain covered with smoke. When their boat was pushed close to the shore
by the wind, Saint Brendan and his companions were surprised to find that the earth was
entirely black. It was then that one of Saint Brendan’s
monk companions fell overboard. None could find him, but they did hear the
monk cry out that he was being torn from them by his sins. What followed were one hundred devils, who
made the monk scream and cry more. It was to the smoke covered mountain that
he went. As the smoke began to clear, Saint Brendan
and his remaining companions supposedly saw the gates of Hell, out from which spewed flame,
fire and sulphur. The monk was consumed. As this text was written just a few years
after Hekla’s devastating eruption in 1104, many have suggested that Hekla – a volcano
with a long history of terrible eruptions – is the hellish island mountain that Saint
Brendan witnessed years earlier. The writings of the Cistercian monk, Herbert
of Clairvaux, helped to strengthen further the association between Hekla and the gateway
to Hell. In his 1180 text, Liber De Miraculis, the
monk suggested that “The renowned fiery cauldron of Sicily, which men call Hell’s
chimney […] is affirmed to be like a small furnace compared to this enormous inferno.” The “fiery cauldron of Sicily” is undoubtedly
the infamous Mount Etna – the world’s most active stratovolcano. Herbert of Clairvaux indicated that, despite
its reputation for being “Hell’s chimney”, another was truly deserving of this reputation,
and makes Etna look like a “small furnace” in comparison to its “enormous inferno”. Whilst the monk did not explicitly name Hekla,
many have theorised that this was the volcano he meant. After all, tales of the volcano’s fiery
nature were predominantly spread across the continent by Cistercian monks. Two centuries later, when Hekla erupted yet
again in 1341, a medieval Icelandic manuscript, supposedly recorded that people saw large
and small birds flying in the mountain’s fire, which were taken to be souls of the dead. For centuries the association between Hekla
and the gateway to Hell continued. In the 16th century, a German scholar supposedly
wrote that the gates of Hell can be found “the bottomless abyss of Hekla Fell”. Even into present times, local folklore tells
of how witches gather around Hekla’s peak each Easter in order to meet with the devil. Regardless of its supposed infernal connection,
today the volcano continues to have an infamous reputation because of the destruction it has
caused. Iceland’s leading travel company has stressed
that visitors wishing to hike Hekla must do so that their own “risk”, as this alleged
gate to Hell may erupt – “without warning” – at any moment. During the fifth century AD, Ireland was visited
by a man who would change their world forever – Saint Patrick. For many, his work in converting Ireland to
Christianity is an accomplishment that puts him amongst Jesus’ own apostles. Patrick’s task was excruciating at times,
leading him to doubt whether he could accomplish his mission in life. Thus, he would often turn to prayer for guidance. According to legend, God listened and answered
his prayers. Jesus supposedly appeared to Patrick and showed
him a cave in the ground on Station Island, a small island located in a lake in Ireland. Jesus is said to have told Saint Patrick that
this was a pit into Purgatory – an intermediary realm where the dead may do penance for their
sins in order to find redemption. From Purgatory, Hell could be experienced. Jesus explained to Saint Patrick that by showing
the Irish the torments of Hell, they would desire the joys of Paradise. Today, a monastery stands on the island. It is thought this dates back to the time
of Saint Patrick, having been built there to mark the island, and its subterranean cave,
as a pilgrimage site. For centuries, pilgrims have traveled to Station
Island to visit what is described as a gateway to the afterlife. Many of the pilgrims were faithful people
seeking affirmation, others were sinners that were brought to contemplate what awaited them
in Hell if they continued on their path. According to local custom, in order to enter
Saint Patrick’s purgatory, the pilgrim must first undergo a special ritual. “It is a custom established by Patrick and
his successors that no man may enter the Purgatory unless he have licence to do so from the Bishop
in whose diocese it is […] When he shall have come to the Bishop, and indicated what
his purpose is, the Bishop shall first exhort him to desist from such an undertaking, saying
that many have entered in and have never come out. If he perseveres he receives letters from
the Bishop to the prior of the monastery ; when the latter shall have read these he shall
dissuade the man from entering the Purgatory, and shall diligently advise him to try some
other penance, showing him the great danger that lies in it. If he persists, however, he brings him into
the church, where he remains for fifteen days in fasting and prayer. At the end of this period the prior summons
the neighbouring clergy, the penitent is fortified with the Holy Communion and sprinkled with
holy water and is then led with procession and litany to the entrance of the Purgatory. The prior shall then declare again to him
the danger, and the fact that many have been lost in that ditch, opening the door for him
in the presence of all. If he remains firm the priests present bestow
their benediction on him, and commending himself to their prayers, and marking himself on the
forehead.” In the minds of those who undertook this medieval
pilgrimage, their journey was a serious one, and was not undertaken lightly. From those who were brave enough to enter,
there have been many accounts of what lies in the cave. Generally, it is described as a vision of
Hell. In the 14th century one such pilgrim was a
French knight of Beaujeu. It is said that inside the cave “he beheld
the infernal torments”. Part of this included meeting “Burgibus,
the porter of hell, who caused a wheel to make a hundred times a hundred thousand revolutions
in the space of a single day, and on it there were fixed a hundred thousand souls.” The French knight also supposedly “saw the
bridge which had to be crossed, and it was as sharp as a razor. He saw the souls in the fields of fire, and
recognised some of them. He saw the gallows of hell. He saw the pit of hell. He saw the gulf of hell.” Only after he had been forced to suffer witnessing
all that Hell contained, was the knight able to return to the “terrestrial paradise”
of Earth. This testimony is not singular. In fact, it is one of the less detailed accounts
of what is reported to occur to those shut in the pit for twenty-four hours. In the twelfth century, a monk wrote a treatise
about the island in which he detailed the testimony of another knight named Owein, who
supposedly faced hordes of demons who all tried to torture him. Only by remaining faithful was the knight
able to survive. Today Station Island continues to be a popular
pilgrimage site visited by many seeking to affirm their faith – or quite possibly, to
catch a glimpse of Hell.