Get out of this hell and head through the gate to another!
At this point, I’ll take any vacation, including one straight to Hell. Of course, I’m kidding, but am I? Who’s to say. Various mythologies and urban legends around the world have long purported that Hell isn’t just a part of the afterlife, but a place that can be accessed from this mortal plane. That is if you find your way to the right volcano, abandoned city, or perpetually burning fire. So allow us to play Virgil to your Dante, hop in the nearest handbasket, and get ready to go to Hell.
Fengdu has a long history in the Taoist tradition of being known as a portal to Hell. A place called Fengdu Ghost City is located on Ming Mountain in the municipality of Chongqing. The area was deemed a “ghost city” during the Eastern Han dynasty when two Taoists achieved immortality on Ming Mountain via self-cultivation. This was around the same time people began to believe that the “king of Hell” was living in Fengdu. Additionally, Ming Mountain is home to the Naihe Bridge, which is said to connect the mortal realm to the Underworld.
In the middle of the Karakum desert in Turkmenistan is “The Door to Hell,” a burning natural gas field that for all intents and purposes certainly looks like a gate to hell–and, hey, truly could be, let’s face it. It was set on fire–on purpose–by geologists to stop the spread of methane gas. It has been burning ever since 1971 and is 230-feet wide.
Waipio Valley, Hawaii
You certainly wouldn’t look at this lush, gorgeous beach with its waterfalls and black sand and immediately think, “Ah, this must be a gate to Hell.” But, think again. According to Hawaiian folklore, a gate to the “lower world,” Lua-o-Milu, lies here. Sure, it’s currently hidden by a bunch of sand, but it’s still there–you don’t just rid yourself of an entrance to Hell that easily. According to the legend, one can enter the Hawaiian land of the dead by leaping off one of the sea cliffs.
Mount Osore, Japan
It is said that an entrance to Hell is located within this mountain in northern Japan that’s known for expelling sulfur dioxide. Nearby is Laku Usori, which, legend has it, is actually the Sanzu River–the river that, according to legend, the dead must cross prior to reaching the afterlife. Oh, and “Osore” also means “fear” in Japanese, so, there’s that.
Hell’s Gate National Park, Kenya
You know this one’s legit because it’s right there in the name. This entrance to Hell, which is also a National Park, is a site of extreme geothermal activity. We’re talking volcanoes and plumes of geothermal steam billowing out–truly a wonder to see, honestly. Is it also a gate to Hell? Technically, yes. It’s Hell’s Gate National Park–like I said, right there in the name.
Hellam Township, Pennsylvania
Located near York, Pennsylvania is a little township called Hellam, which, again, makes sense, as the word “hell” is right there in the name. Hellam is known for an urban legend that claims that it is, actually, the location of the real Seven Gates of Hell. Seven gates in one township? You don’t say. But I do say–according to urban legend, all seven gates are located around the area.
St. Patrick’s Purgatory, Ireland
St. Patrick’s Purgatory, an ancient pilgrimage site on Station Island in Lough Derg, County Donegal, Ireland, that, according to another urban legend, is not a gate to Hell but is a gate to purgatory. It is said that Jesus Christ himself showed a cave to Saint Patrick here, and told him that it was a purgatory entrance. It is mentioned in texts as early as 1185, so whether you’re a believer or not, this particular “legend” has been well documented for some time. If you’re ever thinking about taking a vacation to purgatory and want to try it out, you’ll have to let me know.
This unincorporated county in Kansas is located inside of Douglas County and was founded in 1857. The town has been notorious for being possessed by demonic forces ever since the 1970s, and many claim that a gate to Hell is located in the area. Some claim it’s in Stull Cemetery, while others claim it’s by Stull United Methodist Church.
The Gates of Guinee, Louisiana
Legend has it that, according to voodoo mythology, one enters a purgatory after dying called Guinee, before further “traveling” into their destiny to meet their ancestors. Many practitioners believe this place to be a physical realm, and that Guinee can be reached by opening all seven gates of Hell in the “correct” order (and in this legend, the gates are located in New Orleans).
This is the site of an extremely active volcano–one that, since the year 874, has erupted 20 times. Understandably, this has made it one of the largest productions of lava from a single volcano on earth–which was one of the reasons that many Europeans thought it to be a gate to Hell. Another reason is due to persistent rumors coming from local monks over the years, who refer to Hekla as an “inferno” and the “prison of Judas.” Meanwhile, locals have claimed to have seen souls flying out of the volcano during its eruptions (they were actually birds, but, hey, we all make mistakes). Hekla probably isn’t a gate to Hell, but it is a volcano, which is basically a smaller version of Hell if you really think about it.