Gates of hell

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This article is about supposed portals to the underworld from the surface of the earth. For other uses, see Gates of Hell (disambiguation).

The gates of hell are various places on the surface of the world that have acquired a legendary reputation for being entrances to the underworld. Often they are found in regions of unusual geological activity, particularly volcanic areas, or sometimes at lakes, caves or mountains.

Ancient gates[edit]

Legends from both ancient Greece and Rome record stories of mortals who entered or were abducted into the netherworld through such gates.

  • Pluto's Gate in modern-day Turkey.
  • The god Hades kidnapped the goddess Persephone from a field in Sicily and led her to the underworld through a cleft in the earth so he could marry her.
  • Orpheus traveled to the Greek underworld in search of Eurydice by entering a cave at Taenarum or Cape Tenaron on the southern tip of the Peloponnese.
    • Hercules entered the Underworld from this same spot.
  • Aeneas visited the underworld, entering through a cave at the edge of Lake Avernus on the Bay of Naples.
  • Odysseus visited the underworld, entering through river Acheron in northwest Greece.
  • Rivers Cocytus, Lethe, Phlegethon and Styx were also entrances to the Underworld.
  • In the middle of the Roman Forum is another entrance, Lacus Curtius, where according to legend, a Roman soldier, named Curtius, bravely rode his horse into the entrance in a successful effort to close it, although both he and his horse perished in the deed.[1]
  • Lerna lake was one of the entrances to the Underworld.

Medieval gates[edit]

  • Into the medieval period Mount Etna on Sicily was considered to be an entryway to hell.

Other gates[edit]

In China, Fengdu has a long history in the Taoist tradition of being a portal to hell.

In Nicaragua there are two sites with this reputation.

Hellam Township near York, Pennsylvania, is the subject of a modern urban legend claiming that it contains the Seven Gates of Hell.

In Derweze, Turkmenistan a burning natural gas fire in the middle of the Karakum Desert is known as the Door to Hell.

In the depths of the Catacombs of Paris, legends tell of an entrance to hell.[citation needed]

Mount Osore in northern Japan is said to be an entrance to hell.

Popular culture[edit]

In August 2010, the History Channel premiered a show entitled "The Gates of Hell," (History Specials: Gates of Hell (Season 1, Episode 105) which visited caves and volcanoes in Nicaragua, Belize, Greece, Iceland, Ireland and Ethiopia, to examine the origins of these myths. It featured archaeologists, scholars, explorers and others working in this field.

The book Weird NJ describes a large tunnel, referred to by urban legends as "The Gates of Hell". It is a storm drain in Clifton, New Jersey.

In the movie Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, the main characters (two demigods and one satyr) found the entrance to a Greek version of the Underworld in the Hollywood sign in California.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Marvels of Rome (NewYork: Italica Press, 1986).