Odessa labyrinths and the mystery of the Titanic

Odessa is famous not only for architecture and humor, but also his underground world, which, as a separate country, has always attracted adventurers, smugglers, and now tourists and filmmakers. Historians and local historians claim that the length of Odessa catacombs is about 2500 km, which is several times the length of the underground tunnels in Rome and Paris. The story dungeons, South Palmyra began with the establishment of coal mines and quarries, where limestone was mined to build the city. Over time, the quarry was extended and connected to each other, forming an intricate network of mazes, which are skillfully used by the partisans during the Second world war, and criminals.

“Today”, armed with a dictaphone and camera, he travelled the country, where the sun never shines and it’s easy to get lost after the first turning.

To start exploring the catacombs is better with an underground Museum under the Moldavanka, where you can see the results of paleontological excavations, underground Parking and a bunker during the cold war. There are no artifacts under glass and grandmothers magsmorris and to all the artifacts can be touched — even to saw a piece of rock old saw.

The entrance to the Museum is the descent into the radiation bunker, which, after the end of the cold war “hid” under the box of the garage. “Here at first we just brought friends, later came the idea to make this place open for tourists,” says one of the founders of the Museum of Maxim Baraniecki.

Behind the door of the garage is a concrete staircase that goes to 30 meters under the ground. On it, said our guide, Oleg, in the Soviet years, in the case of radiation, or any other attack, had to go down prisoners female colony, which was nearby. At the end of the stairs intrigued, the travelers are met Tamara — as the guides call a radiation suit with a gun, which themselves hung at the entrance. The bunker is a long, winding hallway: the walls are drawn stone structures, on which to sit, and inside them are visible pipes ventilation ducts, through which the underground inhabitants were served warm air. At the end of the tunnel you can see the office of the commandant of the bunker, protected by a pair of sealed doors and metal bars.

Tamara. Greets everyone at the entrance to the fallout bunker. Photo: Valentin Serov

“Hence issue commands on the closure of the bunker in case of attack, and begin a more long tunnels through which, in the case of seizure of asylum, could have escaped the commandant,” tells us a guide. A run where he was: the length of this system of catacombs is about 80 km away, where there are three more bunkers.

However, the female penitentiary asylum was not needed, but an escaped convict one of the Odessa prison in 1930 tried to hide in the catacombs from the police, but fell in karst well. “After the criminal went policeman Timothy Gritsay. On the bottom of the well he found the remains of ancient animals,” — says Oleg us, offering to hold besarbovo fossilized bones of a camel. The remains of mammoth, woolly rhinoceros and saber-toothed tiger gave scientists.

In the tunnels of the Museum you can get acquainted with the life of partisans during the Second world war: couches for eight, covered with branches, kettles, weapons, and even a small bust of Lenin. According to our guide, it is here in the years of the Romanian occupation was a detachment of 18 officers of the NKVD. The last time they tried to rise up, Romanian troops walled and mined all the entrances. The squad had the necessary supplies to survive, but they destroyed the conflict. “In the squad even had a girlfriend. She got pregnant under the earth, she gave birth, but the baby did not survive and the parents shot for sexual immorality,” says the guide, adding that just tunnels found 18 graves.

The commandant. Guard hopper and passage in the wild catacombs. Photo: Valentin Serov


The underground Kingdom can not exist without legends and fables. Guides love to scare tourists with stories about ghosts, sometimes in these stories from the world of the dead become, even animals. Therefore before entering the tunnel you can ask not to be afraid when you meet a horse, they say, she ran away from the quarries, and still lives in the catacombs.

Do not do without the legends about the treasure. One of them is the most famous in the history of mankind — liner “Titanic”. To see how his crash has depicted the modern Odessa artist, on one of the walls of the Museum catacombs. Despite the fact that the Titanic sank away from the coast of South Palmyra, there is a legend that says that on Board the ship was inhabitant of Odessa who survived the crash and returned home, bought gold bullion in the form of a famous ship. After the death of the owner of the bar was gone, and he was chased by many fans of easy money. For those who want to try their luck, the conductors propose to try to dig up the ground under the vehicle image may be gold hidden there.

In the XIX century under the earth, and hid and other treasures — Odessa beauties. The Turks deceit or by force brought the women to the catacombs and held there until the port does not come in a spaceship that will take the girls into slavery in Turkish homes. Historians tell us that from the violence of the slavers tried to refuse, as this “spoiled goods” and income from it has decreased, so the girls stole a trick. The most attractive male of the gang got acquainted with the frivolous young ladies, seemed a wealthy merchant, and promising mountains of gold, lured the girl into the ground. From here to sail over the sea it had not released. Odessans say that under many buildings on Marazlievskaya street is still possible to see the tunnels that the prisoners were taken directly to the port. In our time, do not walk, the ceilings in the aisles probably collapsed.

“Titanic.” According to legend, the Golden figure hid in the catacombs


If even while traveling on the “Museum” catacombs runs through the body trembling, the wild dungeons, this feeling is reinforced. Only a small fraction of moves spent lighting and brought exhibits for tourists, the rest is a dark and dangerous maze with landslides and flooding, where you can stumble on anything. To go under ground yourself is stupid and dangerous, therefore, to introduce us to wild catacombs we asked caver Vladislav Maslenko.

Our guide experienced “pozemek” and the inspector of the Odessa city Council on preservation of historical heritage. Before the meeting, he explained to us the basics of safety and advised to dress warmly, since the underground temperature does not rise above +16 °C. In the catacombs we descended through one of the entrances to the village nerubayske near Odessa. The passage was low, so I walked, crouching.

Entrance. Go through the cave dwelling, located near Odessa. Photo: P. Mordynsky

“We are now in an abandoned cave dwelling. Here was once the living room, next to another, — says Vladislav. As close as possible to the exit of the catacombs were built lodges, before entering the veranda with Windows and doors, and along the cliff allowed the furnace heating”.

These houses, says our guide, is in Nerubayske and Usatove on the Kuyalnitsky estuary, where the underground system occur close. We went down to a depth of 15 m.

For the first turn of the conductor has offered to turn off the flashlights to experience the pitch darkness. Experience different, and even if you bring a hand to face, it does not see. A few minutes later his eyes adjusted and we noticed the dim rays from the entrance, but then — darkness. Again, turn on the lights and continue to move through the tunnels, listening to Vladislav, who talks about the history of Odessa underground.

“First of all tried to penetrate the outputs of the stone on the surface: the area of the Customs area, in the Military descent, near the present streets of Balkovskaya and outside the city,” explained the conductor.


  • At the bottom of the Black sea in Odessa region divers found the wreck of a German ship

A BIT OF EROTICA. The age of the catacombs is determined by the wall slogans — a kind of chronicle of Odessa. “Rock art” here is really quite a lot.

“She had some sort of event, discussed it, and someone the most impulsive wrote on the wall”, — says Vladislav, remembering that under the Moldavian has the word “Beria — the enemy of the people”, taken in August 1953. The oldest Vladislav believes the tunnels under the streets Bunin and Rope: there he saw the record, dated 1807-m. We also during the trip I saw a modern message “let me out” left two girls, and presumably pre-revolutionary “God save the Tsar”, written by a mining engineer. There are more romantic “canvas”, for example, “Vova invited Martha on the Kulikovo field and were treated to gingerbread”. Next — “Philip makes love with Alexandra and wants to propose” detailed illustrations to the text. We explain over one third of the inscriptions and drawings in the catacombs are of erotic nature.

In the footsteps of deserters. The correspondent of “Today” explores the tunnels. Photo: P. Mordynsky

EXPERIMENTS. Wading florid passages, we reached impasse. But Explorer sure step went to a blank wall and became a small hole. “There were hiding deserters during the Second world war, but among the Odessa pozemstan caches known as the “Iron door” — the expert dungeons. In 1982 one of our friend has lived here for 19 days. Locked behind an iron door and checked what
to live.” By the way, poziemski often arrange themselves such checks, for example, rekonstruiruet quarrying with ancient tools, or trying to get out of the catacombs with a blindfold. However, they say the last anyone from experienced cavers still failed.

Another feature of the wild catacombs, located near the housing people, is garbage. So, we saw a well, over which towered a column of waste, a kind of monument to human stupidity. “Once it was an ordinary well from which people take water, but when in the house there was water, they began to throw household garbage,” says Vladislav. But there are existing wells. And to keep the tunnels clean it regularly hold community work days, which are called “environmental campaigns”.

Coquina. Stone built not only houses, but also the crosses on the graves. Photo: P. Mordynsky


Several decades ago, dungeons were an integral part of life in Odessa restless kids. There was always some hothead, who offered to walk through the tunnels. “In my childhood, we took a spool of fishing line and a hook, fastened the hook at the entrance to the catacombs and went for a walk through the tunnel, unwinding the fishing line. It then came back, — told the “Today” Odessa Yuri. Once, as a kid, I collected all the children from the yard, and led into the ground. We thought we were out for a few hours and actually passed more than a day. When we left, at the entrance stood the mother with a strap, and the children then forbidden to communicate with me”. Odessa said
a little grown up, realized how stupid that is.

Others made fun of the tourists. “Teenagers wore twisted fur outside coats and went into the catacombs after the tourists, waiting for the traveler who lag behind the main group. When it was up to the traveler on all fours, grabbed the leg and ran away. The only thing that I noticed who feared the idler, it’s something shaggy and running” — says the inhabitant of Odessa Elena.

CRIMINALS. Often went down into their secret corners of the Odessa catacombs and criminals. There they made feast — thieves raspberries, — kept stolen and trained to pull a purse from the pockets. In the Museum under the Moldavanka you can even see a doll with bells, on which he practiced thieves.

And if before in the catacombs at the table going criminal authorities, today
— respectable uncle and aunt, who decide to spend in a dungeon your corporate events. In the Museum are even quests: adults looking for zombies and children of the dwarfs. The dungeon has almost turned into an attraction, here arranging receptions to birthday and weddings. “One day a young man proposed to his beloved on a boat in the underground lake in the catacombs,” say the guides.

RULES. But whatever the purpose of travel to the catacombs, in any case can not go there without a guide, and during the walk it is necessary not to lose sight of his companions.
“Am I, as a group, talk and suddenly you notice that one of the tourists gone. It turned out, he looked at the drawings on the wall and decided that can use them to navigate, wanted to overtake the group and to scare everybody. In the end, the man got lost and really scared, because we are a few hours running around and looking for it,” — said the experienced pozemek.

Place thieves feast. Photo: Valentin Serov


The catacombs are always attracted researchers. 1965 in Odessa there is a club “Search,” which deals with the study of artificial caves and helps to search the “lost and found”, because its members have the necessary training and knowledge. Members of the club, and now there are 30 of them — people of different professions. “For some, the fascination with the catacombs becomes a profession. The catacombs is a sport, it’s history and contact with her, and this trip and friends” — confessed to “Today” caver with 38-the summer experience Igor Greek.
Large-scale rescue operation in the catacombs, which attract “moskovtsev” that happen every two to three years. Most often, stray tourists find.

“Every 40 years someone can not be found, but not the fact that they were lost,” says the Greek. And remembers the incident that happened about eight years ago, in the village nerubayske.

“Young people staged an impromptu feast under the ground. One of them decided to go to the bathroom around the corner, illuminating their way with a phone, but tripped on a rock, fell and smashed the device. If he was sitting on the ground, it would be found in the two accounts, but he crept in the dark, says digger. — First comrades searched for him alone, and then hooked the MOE. We hiked on the second day. We knew this section of the catacombs: walked the runway of debris, where a normal person will not go, and the lost sits there”. Found reveler after about 45 minutes after the “Search” went to investigate. “Even the TV did not have time to come,” jokes Igor Greek.