|Location:||Nerubaiske village (Nerubayskoye, Nerubayskoe, Belyaevskogo)|
Museum of Partisan Glory: all year daily 10-17.
Underground tour: after appointment.
Museum of Partisan Glory: .
Underground tour: Ukrainians UAH 22, Foreigners UAH 75.
|Classification:||Limestone Mine Room and Pillar Mining|
|Guided tours:||V=50,000/a |
Museum of Partisan Glory, Belyaevskiy district, Nerubayskoe, Odessa.
Odessa Catacombs, Fagot Agency, 4 Rishelievska, Odessa, Tel: +380-482-375-201, Fax: +380-482-223-436.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|19th cty||passages quarried.|
|1941||used by partisans during World War II.|
|1969||Museum of Partisan Glory opened.|
|2005||19 years old girl gets lost after syvester party.|
|2007||dead body of girl finally removed.|
Odessa Catacombs are a labyrinth of passages, between two and four meters wide, which run below a huge portion of the city. They were created some 200 years ago, when the city was actually built. Close to Odessa, at the city of Nerubayskoye, rocks were mined, which were needed for the buildings. Soon the rock outcrops were not enough and the rocks were mined underground. One of the oldest mining technologies is called room and pillar. To avoid the collapse of the ceiling only passages of a witdh between 2 m and 4.5 m were mined, the rock in between remained as a pillar supporting the ceiling. The result is maze of some 2,500 kilometers in length, at least this is the number generally given. Actually explored are about 1,700 km of passages, the other number is an estimation or just wishful thinking. The height is between 1.5 m and 3.5 m, depending on the thickness of the mined stone.
The locals call the Odessa underground the Catacombs. They are really proud to have the biggest catacombs of the world. Unfortunately we must tell them that catacombs are underground cemeteries, especially Christian. The passages of Otessa are impressive, but they are simply limestone quarries. However, we will call the catacombs on this page, because it has become a sort of proper name.
Beneath the somewhat wrong name there are numerous stories around the catacombs which are actually urban legends with probably a true story behind. For example, there is a story of a sailor, who hid his treasure of gold in the passages. The sailor never returned and the gold is still there, but nobody knows where. A similar legends tells of the man who survived the Titanic, and was taken to Odessa by the ship which rescued him. He was so grateful, he created a model of the Titanic made of pure gold. And - the story does not tell why - he then brought this treasure to the catacombs. Such treasure stories drew hundreds of treasure hunters to Odessa, and the secret treasure mags must have sold very well. Unfortunately there is also a legend about an underground God living in the catacombs and punishing any treasure hunter trying to carry away valuables.
There is a story, that Odessa does not have a subway system or Metro, because of the tunnels. Actually such tunnels may be a small difficulty for the engineers, but other cities with similar tunnels have a subway system too, Paris for example. We guess Odessa lacks a subway, because they are very expensive. Some stories tell, the passages run 50 m below sea level. Odessa is a harbour city, and the surface to the north is less than 50 m above sea level. There might be passages below sea level, but its unlikely, because water would flow in and fill the passages unless there are pumps installed which remove the water continually. So we doubt it. Other stories tell about criminals who used the passages. Slave traders who smuggled stolen women through the Odessa port to the slave markets of Constantinople stored their "goods" here. Some criminals not even used but also expanded the tunnels for their needs. Considering the current situation in the eastern countries we guess if there have ever been slave traders in the catacombs, it is more likely a recent problem than an ancient one.
The huge labyrinth is extremely dangerous for people who get lost. Now and then this happens, for example when drunken kids go to the labyrinth to have a party and get drunk. And if one gets lost it may be found after years. A girl which went to a sylvester party in 2005 was finally discovered by urban explorers after four months. They made pictures and called the police, which refused to get the body from the remote location in the labyrinth. After two years the place had become a sort of infamous sight, but only after a local journalist published articles with pictures and a public discussion started, the corpse was removed a day later. As a result the city tries now to close all entrances to the catacombs, but the size is so enormous, it is actually impossible to find and close all.
Only a small part of the huge system of passages is open to the public. It is part of the Museum of Partisan Glory located at the village of Nerubayskoye north of Odessa. The museum is dedicated to the Ukrainian partisans, who used the tunnels during World War II as a base to attack the occupying Nazi troops. When German and Romanian army occupied Odessa in 1941, the Soviet Military headquarters gave the order to organize the partisan resistance. Odessa catacombs were equipped with provisions and weapons for half a year. Five partisan units were fighting the Nazi and Romanian army. It was supported by a wide range of civilians who provided food and necessary equipment. But there were 45 other groups, hiding in the passages, a total of 6,000 people.
A part of the museum is using the underground passages for an exhibition of an reconstructed partisan camp. A more adventurous visit to the catacombs is also possible for individuals after appointment.