11 Astonishing Underground Cities Around The World, From Derinkuyu To Coober Pedy

Published September 28, 2023

Naours, France: The Underground City That Started As A Limestone Quarry

Underground City Of Naours

Wikimedia CommonsAn underground chapel in Naours, France.

In the second century C.E., Romans occupying Naours, France constructed a limestone quarry that eventually fell out of use. At first, locals used the abandoned quarry as a place to store goods and hide from invading armies, but as conflicts ramped up during the time of the late Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages, this hiding happened more and more frequently.

According to Ancient Origins, locals hid in the quarry so often, in fact, that they began to construct more permanent structures within it. These structures included things like wells, stables, bakeries, and chapels.

To conceal their underground presence, the locals even routed any fires from bakers’ ovens or other heat sources up through above-ground structures. But they weren’t secretive enough. Around the 9th century C.E., Viking invaders overtook the town and inhabited its subterranean settlement.

It was in the 17th century, however, that the underground city reached its peak population of 3,000 people, as fearful locals sought shelter in the midst of the bloodshed that took place during the Thirty Years’ War.

Like many other underground cities, Naours was eventually abandoned and later rediscovered. In this case, the rediscovery happened in 1887 during a home renovation project. After this, it became a massive attraction for tourists, especially for off-duty soldiers during World War I.

Later analysis of graffiti left on the underground city’s walls revealed that up to 2,000 Australian soldiers left messages on the walls during this time.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
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Harvey, Austin. "11 Astonishing Underground Cities Around The World, From Derinkuyu To Coober Pedy." AllThatsInteresting.com, September 28, 2023, https://allthatsinteresting.com/underground-cities. Accessed June 22, 2024.