Gateways To Hell: Urban Legend And Folklore Of The Underworld

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
May 7, 2017
Last Updated
October 3, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
13 min read
Posted in
Supernatural, Folklore

Whether Hell actually exists, or whether it is merely a word to describe a concentration of “evil” in a particular place is open to debate. Or perhaps Hell is nothing more than a place of torment described in order to keep people in line. Since the beginning of civilized societies, there have been various descriptions of this place of torment.

Gateway to Hell.

Gateway to Hell.

Entrances to Hell reside all over the world and in the most varied and bizarre of places. Be it in strange caves, invisible gates, or even modern-day sewer systems.

The 2013 movie, “Nothing Left To Fear”, although a fictional film, would take its inspiration from real legends of the small and otherwise sleepy town of Stull, Kansas.

The majority of the activity takes place in the cemetery. According to the local folklore, the Devil will appear here. Many teenagers use the site as a drinking location. According to them, bottles would fail to break if thrown against the ruined walls of the church. Inside these ruined walls, sits a portal that allows those in the underworld access to the world of the living. Amid safety concerns, and in an effort to deter adventure seekers congregating there, the church ruins would be subject to demolition.

There have been various strange incidents in the small town of Stull, however. When investigators have attempted to capture EVP, they would occasionally pick up what appears to be the voice of an old woman. Perhaps this is one of the Devil’s wives, who legend says resides here, along with the grave of their infant son.

We will look at some of the other locations to Hell around the United States shortly. First, however, check out the trailer to “Nothing Left To Fear” below.

Gates To The Underworlds of Ancient Greece

Of course, legends of Hell go right the way back to antiquity. The legends of Ancient Greece speak repeatedly of the underworld.

Just one of these entrances to the underworlds is the Cape Matapan Caves. These sit at the far south of modern day Greece. In Ancient Greek mythology, this location was a “back door” of sorts to the underworld. One other point of interest is the temple that resides at the caves, dedicated to the Greek god, Poseidon. Poseidon’s brother, Hades, just happens to be the god of the underworld.

In 2013, one of the gateways to Hell in Ancient Greece in Hierapolis (that is now in modern day Turkey), appeared to have been unearthed by a team of archaeologists. The layout of the ruins appeared to mirror the accounts of Pluto’s Gate.

Archaeologists made particular note of how birds that flew too close to the entrance would drop dead almost instantly. This also matched the accounts of Strabo who stated that “animals which enter…..die instantly!”

The video below looks at the find in Turkey in 2013.

Entrances To Hell Across The Ancient World

As we might imagine given the belief systems of the ancient world, there are many apparent entrances to the underworld to be found in historic places and ancient ruins. And there are most likely many more yet to be discovered.

While it is easy to dismiss many of the alleged entrances to Hell in the modern era as nothing more than urban legend and local folklore, should we do the same with those from thousands of years ago? Or might have more to tell us of what “Hell” – if it was to exist – actually was.

As we have already seen, perhaps some of the most intriguing legends of an underworld come to us from the writings of ancient Greece. And it is there we will turn our attention first.

The Alepotrypa Cave – The Real Life Hades?

Perhaps a great place to start [1] would be to examine the Alepotrypa cave in Greece, which some believe may have been the Hades of ancient Greece, or at least the inspiration for it. According to the legend surrounding the discovery, the cave was found in 1958 when a man followed his dogs who were hunting foxes. They went inside a hole chasing the fox (who the story says managed to get away) prompting the man to follow them. When he did, he found himself in the huge cave network.

There was an entire array of finds inside the cave, ranging from pottery to tools and weapons. There were also many skeletal remains, including a pair of skeletons who appeared to be embracing perhaps suggesting their deaths came with little warning. There have also been signs that rituals were carried out in the cave thousands of years ago.

Some research suggests that the population of the pre-historic city goes back at least 6000 years, perhaps more, with some suggestions even putting forward an age of around 9000 years. Excavations continue in the cave systems today. Whether it might be the actual Hades, though, or whether it inspired the Greek legends of the underworld, perhaps remains to be seen.

The short video below examines this most intriguing cave system a little further.

Lake Avernus – A Place To Communicate With The Dead

During the times of the ancient Greeks, Lake Avernus in Italy would have been at the very edge of their land. And consequently, at least in part, it was considered an entrance into the underworld – essentially into Hell.

The lake has a particularly dark appearance which certainly helps convey the message of darkness and evil. This is largely due, however, to the dead volcanic craters that sit under the water. Because of this, many birds are known to purposely fly around the lake to avoid, to them, the toxic gases that escape into the atmosphere. Once more, to those in the ancient world, the sight of birds dropping to the ground around the lake would perhaps convince them further that Hell really did reside under the waters.

Lake Avernus, Italy

Lake Avernus, Italy

There are also several caves that lead to extensive tunnel systems around the edge of the water. It is claimed in many writings from the time of the ancient Greeks that communication with the dead took place in these tunnel systems. What’s more, it was from here that nightmares escaped the world of the dead and entered people’s minds while they slept.

The “Crystal Skeletons” Of The Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave – Entrance To The Mayan Underworld

Another intriguing cave system connected to the ancient beliefs of the underworld resides in modern-day Belize. Actun Tunichil Muknal is widely regarded to have once been the apparent gateway to the underworld of the Mayan people. And in keeping Mayan tradition, not only did rituals take place in this cave but so did human sacrifice.

Interestingly, unlike the traditions of human sacrifice that involved the severely bloody removing of the heart of the victim while still alive, those sacrificed in this underworld cave were taken – most likely already drugged – and would then have their skulls cracked by a single blow before being left as the offering, along with various gifts and pottery.

Many of these skeletal remains have a crystal-like appearance because of the water that runs under and around them and are also “sealed” to the floor.

The reason these sacrifices were left where they were was the Mayan belief that beyond that point was Xibalba – essentially the underworld. In this dark place resided 12 specific demons, each of which caused such things as disease, poverty, and even death in the Mayan population. Unless, of course, they were appeased.

The short video below looks at the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave system a little further.

Fengdu – The “Ghost City” Of Ming Mountain, China

The “Ghost City” – named Fengdu – can be found on Ming Mountain in China overlooking the Yangtze River and dates back at least 2000 years. There, you will find a network of elaborate buildings and temples, as well as religious shrines, each articulately designed. According to local legend, two military officials named Yin Changsheng and Wang Fangping, who also practiced Taoism, each managed to achieve such meditated balance that they actually achieved immortality.

A combination of the two men’s names (Yinwan) translates to “Kings of Hell”, which probably explains why the city has a connection to the underworld. In fact, it was during the Tang Dynasty that a temple was built especially for Hell and the underworld that awaited some in the afterlife. It was during this time when the temple complex became cut off from the main city due to intense flooding and rising water.

The name Ghost City is in reference to the belief in the region that the dead – or the souls thereof – must enter the city and pass three specific tests in order to enter the afterlife. If they fail, however, they will be sent to Hell through several apparent entrances that exist there.

The first test these recently deceased people must pass is on the Bright of Helplessness, a genuine stone bridge built during the Ming Dynasty. Here, the “goodness” of the person is assessed. If they pass, they are allowed to proceed. Failure, however, will result in demons suddenly blocking their way before flinging them into the waters below where they will soon enter Hell.

The Bridge of Helplessness

The Bridge of Helplessness

Following this, assuming the person has passed the “goodness” test, the soul will move on to the Ghost-Torturing Pass. Here, the King of Hell, Yama, will block their path and once more assess whether they are worthy of passing. Once more, should any soul be deemed unworthy of passing to the afterlife, they are cast to the underworld immediately.

Should the soul pass these first two tests they move on to a stone in front of Tianzi Palace. Here, they must balance on one leg for three full minutes. Should they manage this, they are granted passage to the afterlife. Should they fall, however, it is a sign they are a “bad person” and will be sent to Hell.

Incidentally, if a person is sent to Hell, then an eternity of torture and suffering awaits them, and there are many depictions of this throughout the Ghost City.

While the area is a popular tourist destination today with the legends treated with a pinch of salt, there are some who assert that there is perhaps more authenticity than just mere myth. The place certainly has an atmosphere to it. Whether that is the many unnerving and demonic statues that reside there or not is perhaps up for debate. It is certainly unnerving and beautiful in equal measure.

The short video below examines this interesting if grim location a little more.

Bizarre Entrances To Hell in the United States

Perhaps one of the strangest locations of a gateway to the underworld is that located behind the Black Prince Distillery Clifton in New Jersey. And it is easy to see why this location has claims as one of the entrances to Hell.

Satanic symbols sprawl out across the walls of the tunnel system. The tunnels themselves contain the remains of bones, apparently from Satanic rituals and sacrifices. Even the layering of the tunnels themselves represents the circles of Hell.

The short video below features footage from within the tunnel system behind the Black Prince Distillery.

Just off a lonely road in Hallam, Pennsylvania, lay the Seven Gates of Hell. What is particularly strange about this location, is that all but one of the gates is invisible during the day. Only by passing through all seven of these gates, will you find yourself in Hell.

Possibly seen as one of the scariest locations, is Satan’s Hollow, in Blue Ash, Ohio. The location houses a Satanic alter where rituals and sacrifices take place. Local legend even states that a doorway to hell became open as a result of one of these rituals. A strange shadow man now guards this doorway. Those who have ventured to the entrance have made claims that they could hear blood-curdling screams coming from deep inside.

The short video below looks at one of the many investigations at Satan’s Hollow.

The Demon House of Indiana

In 2014 a seemingly run-of-the-mill house in Indiana in the United States began to appear on various online media outlets. The house – purchased by Zak Bagans of the TV show “Ghost Adventures” – contained evil spirits in abundance, as well as a portal to Hell to boot.

The house was previously occupied by a mother and two children, one of whom would be subject to demonic possession. This included the twelve-year-old girl levitating above her bed. Her nine-year-old son also suffered at the hands of whatever forces were in the house. For reasons no-one can explain, he “walked on the ceiling” in front of his shocked and aghast mother.

Bagans wished to investigate the property for himself. It would appear he certainly came across significant activity. A little under two years after buying the house, he ordered its demolition. He would state publicly that “dark energy” resided there, and that he had to “close the portal!”

Following the demolition, the ruins would go to a secret storage facility.

The short video below features news footage of Indiana’s Demon House.

Seven Gates Of Hell Bridge, Illinois

There are several legends of the “seven gates of hell” in the United States. One of the most intriguing though is the Seven Gates Of Hell Bridge in Collinsville, Illinois. Perhaps not least as it isn’t actually a bridge at all, but rather a series of bridges (old and unused railroad bridges to be exact) around the town. Until recent times, the town sprung in the hilly environment of the coal mines and as such, the rail bridges were required to transport the cargo out from the plants.

"Gate 1" of the Seven Gates Of Hell in Illinois

“Gate 1” of the Seven Gates Of Hell in Illinois

Each of the “gates” are the roads running under them. And what’s more, these gates need to be accessed in the correct order if the person wishes to “open the gates of hell”. Providing, that is, you pass through the seventh gate at midnight.

Making these apparent entrances to the underworld if only slightly more believable are the many legends around the town of Satanic rituals taking place under the gates, as well as several apparent hanging. Consequently, there are several accounts of apparent ghost sightings around the gates.

The “Seven Gates” Ritual

Undoubtedly many people will have attempted the apparent ritual, but a typical attempt to open the alleged gates would involve traveling along Lebanon Road for a short time before passing through the first gate. This gate is quite close to the main town, and most researchers have reported no paranormal reports or encounters here.

Next, almost immediately after passing through the first gate, you have to make a sharp left turn on to Lockman Road. Once more, you should pass through this gate and while you might not experience any paranormal encounters yourself, there are people who have. Several people have reported seeing a young child while others recall seeing the apparition of a man. Local legends claim that a man was indeed hanged at this particular bridge (apparently over a dispute with a friend), while it is also claimed that an African American child was hanged here by members of the KKK.

Gates 3 and 4, however, are where you will likely begin to feel a sense of uneasiness and even of being watched. They are sometimes referred to as the “Twin Gates” due to them being next to each other. After passing through the second gate, you should remain on Lockman Road before turning right on Longhi Road where you will immediately be confronted with Gate 3 and then Gate 4.

The “Twin Gates” – An Immediate Change In Atmosphere

It is perhaps these two bridges that boast of some of the darkest if intriguing legends. For example, may local rumors and legends speak of Satanic rituals taking place here. Perhaps that explains the feelings of being watched we mentioned earlier or the general uneasiness. Some who have ventured here even speak of feeling suddenly sick, while others have noted how – if you should exit your vehicle temporarily – the silence is total aside from the sound of running water.

One particular account told of how they were listening to this strange running water between gates 3 and 4 when they suddenly heard the sound of a car approaching the fourth gate. They immediately jumped in their vehicle so as to vacate the area. However, as they moved into view of gate 4 there was nothing at all to be seen.

If all that was not bone-chilling enough many people report seeing the remains of dead animals seemingly scattered about, which would certainly endorse the rumors of Satanic and Occult rituals. One account states that they made the truly macabre discovery of the “remains of a baby calf”.

Further Satanic rituals are said to take place in a house that you will find just after gate 4. Sometimes referred to as the “Death House” it is claimed that aside from the alleged rituals, the property is said to be haunted. However, we should also note two things here. Firstly, there are several houses just after this bridge and it appears that no one is certain which the Death House might actually be. What’s more, a house with a sign outside stating “STAY OUT” is actually occupied and should be avoided for the owner’s sake.

The Long Ride To Gate 5, 6, and 7 And Opening The Gates Of Hell

After passing through the fourth gate you are to stay on Lockman Road eventually merging back into Lebanon Road. You then continue past several other roads before turning left on South Liberty Road. It is here you will find the fifth gate. And while it might look a little more menacing in that it is slightly narrower and longer, the appears to be little to no paranormal activity witnessed here.

After passing through gate 5 you should remain on South Liberty Road before turning right on West Mill Creek Road where you will notice gate 6. Local legends claim to two youngsters crashed their car here which has, in recent years, led to reports of an apparent “ghost car” near this particular bridge. How true the account is, though, remains a point of debate.

After passing through the sixth you need to remain on West Mill Creek Road, eventually taking on East Mill Creek Road before turning left on Blackjack Road. After continuing down this road, you will need to turn right on to Bauer Road which will lead to gate 7. It is here, according to local legend, if you pass through at midnight after having passed through each of the other gates in the correct order, that the “gates of Hell” are said to open. What’s more, “Hell Hounds” will likely greet you at the opening to this portal to the underworld.

Of course, whether the ritual works remains open to debate. Some claim they have performed the procedure in the correct order at the correct time and experienced nothing at all. The only real way to find out would be to attempt the ritual for yourself.

The video below examines the claims a little further.

St. Patrick’s Purgatory Lough Derg

Although the accounts date back to ancient times, an apparent entrance to Hell on Station Island in County Donegal is still visited today by the religious faithful as a test to their commitment to St. Patrick. These pilgrims – who arrive from all over the world – fast for three days, as well as foregoing sleep and stand on sharp stones as a way of testing for faith.

However, in a part of a cave on the island, legend claims that there is a portal to Hell. The legend states that Jesus himself had made St. Patrick aware of this opening into the underworld. When St. Patrick looked inside, he could see those who had been condemned to Hell suffering eternal punishments. Jesus told St. Patrick that he should bring those who doubted an afterlife to this portal so as to convince them of the faith.

How true this account is obviously very much open to debate. What is interesting is a monastery was built on top of the portal in the 1600s, and the cave itself sealed up. Whether this was to deter those who might have an active interest in the work of the Devil or whether the story has more credence than we might suspect is open to debate. Even today, only the pilgrims on their three-day mission are allowed on the island.

The short video below looks at the apparent portal to the underworld a little further.

The Bottomless Pit Under Houska Castle

Perhaps one of the lesser-known doorways to Hell resides under Houska Castle in the Czech Republic. Sitting around fifty miles from Prague, the claims are that a “bottomless pit” sits directly underneath its foundations. Anyone brave enough to venture down there will find Hell waiting for them.

Built between 1253 and 1278, the reason for building it was to keep the evil, from the pit from escaping into the outside world. With a closer inspection of the centuries old building, it becomes apparent that behind the windows lay only the bricks and stone of the main walls. They are there merely for decoration only. Over the pit itself, a small chapel sits in an effort to keep whatever evil lurks underneath at bay.

One particular local legend states that a prisoner who was due for execution would have the chance of a reprieve. The condition? They would lower the prisoner into the pit and then he would report their findings once back at the top. The prisoner agreed and ventured into the darkness below. Following him letting out a scream like no-one had heard, his captors would bring him back from the pit. His hair had turned white and he resembles a man decades older than he actually was.

Interestingly enough the Nazis – who had a dark interest in the occult – took over the castle as a military headquarters during the Second World War. Many believe their sole purpose for being there was an attempt to open the portal to Hell.

Check out the video below. It features paranormal investigators and their findings from Houska Castle.


1 Killer Cave May Have Inspired Myth of Hades, Charles Q. Choi, Live Science, November 28th, 2012

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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