From June 13, 2018:

Today I went exploring in the extensive catacombs underneath the city of Odessa, Ukraine – one entrance to which you can see in the picture below, in the city outskirts.

Most of Odessa’s catacombs were originally underground quarries for the stone used to build the city. But they became a vital part of the city’s history and culture.

Odessa’s catacombs occupy a strata of limestone left from when the Black Sea was larger than today, before it broke out though the Dardanelles. It’s only a few thousand years old, so it’s very crumbly and you can still see seashells in it.

Here is a tally drawn by the original miners on the catacomb wall, probably in the late 1800s, indicating how many blocks they’ve cut.

Criminals, smugglers, revolutionaries, and partisan resistance fighters (during WW2) all used Odessa’s catacombs as a hideout and way to move underground. Here are some bullets found from different periods.

Here is a place where Jews and other refugees hid in the catacombs when Odessa was occupied by the German-allied Romanians in WW2, walling off little rooms for each family.

Sometimes local kids have gotten lost in the catacombs under Odessa, which are pitch black unless you have a flashlight. Many places are caved in, and many entrances/exits have been closed off over time.

An inscription dating from before WWI, in the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine.

Inscription left by a miner bemoaning his fate of endless misery working underground. Probably from the late 1800s.

Old vodka bottles found in the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine.

A drawing in the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine, probably by revolutionaries depicting the battleship Potemkin (which mutinied and sailed to Odessa in 1905).

Another old (early 20th Century) drawing of either a revolutionary or a gangster, in the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine.

An inscription from 1886 in the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine.

A poem (about nightingales and regret) drawn in the late 1800s in the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine. Part of it was later cut out as a block of stone.

“Long live the Tsar!” inscribed on a wall of the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine.

A prayer written (probably in the early 1900s) by Baptists, who were persecuted by the Tsarist government and took refuge in the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine.

“Long live the Party Central Committee and its chairman Nikita Khrushchev!”

Bible verse written by Baptists taking refuge from Tsarist persecution in the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine.

The stem of an old gas lantern used by miners in the catacombs under Odessa, with the original factory inscription (from before the 1917 revolution).

Memorial to one of the local explorers of the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine, who died young a few years ago. My guide: “He was very good boy, but he very liked vodka maybe.”

Drawings by miners of their wives and girlfriends, from the early 1900s, in the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine.

Some more recent drawings left by teenagers in the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine.

Proof positive that the catacombs under Odessa, Ukraine were built by aliens.

My local guide (who has been exploring the catacombs since he was a boy) and I walked underground for more than an hour, but barely scratched the surface of the catacombs in this village, much less the whole of Odessa.

My guide, Valentine, told me he once found the body of a dead partisan while exploring the catacombs under Odessa. He was digging at an collapsed opening and suddenly saw a skull looking at him. Scared the bejesus out of him.

And … back out into the sunlight. It’s very chilly in the catacombs under Odessa, even when the summer weather outside is quite hot.

The village on the outskirts of Odessa where we explored the catacombs. Most of the entrances to the catacombs in the city itself have been closed off by the police, to crack down on their use by criminals.

If you’re curious and like to know more, here is a video of someone’s trip to the catacombs under Odessa with Valentine, the very same guy who was my guide today. It’s quite interesting.

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