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Peer Through the Gateway to Hell

by Akhil Kalepu

Mar 30, 2016

The Gateway to Hell, Turkmenistan © Mya Be | Dreamstime

Trends / Unique Itineraries & Tours

You might be surprised to find out the entrance to the underworld is only about 20 feet beneath the ground. Located near Derweze, Turkmenistan, the Gateway to Hell is a fiery crater sitting in the middle of the country’s vast natural gas fields. Soviet engineers originally discovered the site in 1971, but were more interested in possible oil extraction.

 

The Gateway to Hell, Turkmenistan © Antonella865 | Dreamstime 44848509

© Antonella865 | Dreamstime

 

Disappointed with nothing but natural gas, the engineers unfortunately caused the ground to collapse underneath their drilling equipment, creating a huge crater measuring 230 feet wide. To prevent the leaking gases from poisoning the nearby towns, the engineers decided to burn it off, setting the crater on fire and expecting it to burn out in just a few weeks. The plan didn’t work, and the fire has been going for the past 45 years.

 

Since 2009, more than 50,000 people have visited the site, entranced by the heat and roaring flames. The government has been pushing the area as a travel destination, believing it has the potential to be an adventure and eco-tourism hotspot.

 

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