The natural wonders of this earth excite the heart and imagination of all travelers. However, many travel resources provide snapshots of adventures from around the world without ever delving beneath the surface. Underground areas of the earth provide fascinating new experiences for even well-seasoned travelers. Even the deepest, darkest holes in the earth have their own forms of stars, columns, and canopies. Embark on journeys you never thought possible in some of the most magical places in the world—underground.
1. Crater of Diamonds State Park
Beneath the earth in Murfreesboro, Arkansas lays one of the most dazzling excavations for travelers—the diamond mine. There are many tours offering travelers the chance to find gemstones and other mesmerizing objects, but the Crater of Diamonds stands alone in its dome of possibility. Anyone can mine for diamonds in this state park, and everyone can keep the treasures found underground. The entrance fee? Seven dollars.
The hope new travelers carry with them to the site is justified by many past successes. In 2013, a young girl found a 3.85-carat diamond in this location, knowing she should travel to the magical spot after hearing about the 5.61-carat honey-brown diamond found at the Crater of Diamonds State Park by a 12 year old boy just a few months previously. The park keeps gem experts on staff, so that tourists will immediately learn whether they have found something of value.
2. The Sedlec Ossuary
The typical ossuaries of the world clutch the skeletons of people who have long since passed, but the Sedlec Ossuary of the Czech Republic challenges the notion that the passed are forgotten Necrophobia (or fear of dying) affects 68% of the U.S. population, but—through woodcarver František Rint—the Sedlec Ossury has altered the common image of death through art.
Instead of simply rearranging piles of skeletons as he was hired to do, Rint transformed the ossuary into a bright ornate wonder. The halls are indeed lined with bones, but the bones are only used as the material for the creation of a beautifully enchanting underground room. The cleverly designed walls and columns of skulls and bones may still challenge the weary necrophobiac, but only until they look up and see the bright chandelier. It hangs above the traveler, proving that life, even in its ending moment, can be beautiful.
3. The Cave of the Mountain River
Astonishing ecosystems thrive underneath other ecosystems, as described in the book “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Author Jules Verne’s imagination created a world beneath the dirt and grass that you know, revealing another layer of ground capable of growing vegetation and sustaining other forms of life. As of 2010, travelers can now find out whether Verne had an overactive imagination or vast knowledge of the earth when she published her book in 1864.
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The Cave of the Mountain River, also known as Son Doong Cave, inspirers all visitors to the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park of Vietnam. As the largest cave in the world, it even has its own forest! The most imaginative child on earth may not even consider the notion that flying foxes exist under our feet. The Cave of the Mountain River alters the beliefs of the most skeptical soul and awakens the hope that the impossible is, in fact, possible.
4. U-Dig Fossils
Beneath the surface of the Southwestern United States, remnants of those who reigned over earth before human existence wait in the soil for discovery. The owners of a private quarry in Delta, Utah share the treasurers beneath their land with the public. U-Dig Fossils provides travelers with the opportunity to participate in actual digs in limestone shale. The private quarry is teaming with trilobites, and no special tools are necessary to split the limestone shale that contains these fossils. A child at U-Dig Fossils confronted with the age-old question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” can reply “I’m already doing it!”
5. The Unnamed City Under Cappadocia
Turkey has offered tourists a plethora of ancient cities to explore since the 1960s, but none have come close to the vast historical significance of the newly discovered city beneath the modern city of Cappadocia. Australian News.com reports, “A massive underground city the size of 65 football fields, which may have housed up to 20,000 people, is slowly emerging from under the soft volcanic rock in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.”
In 2014, archeologists uncovered a city over 5,000 years old. The magic of the yet-to-be-named city offers ancient knowledge applicable to today’s culture through its communal living solutions, livestock care, and even water storage. The vast system of tunnels almost resembles the structure of an ant farm on a grand scale. This uncovered city was not found buried underground—it was purposely built underneath the surface.
The earth provides many great natural resources and beauty upon its surface, but travelers have access to even more magical treasurers underground. Those who allow their imaginations to run wild can now consider the fact that some fantasies may already have become reality just under their feet.