Normally Stanito writes and thrills about places she has researched, seen, visited and actually entered. And it’s only because that makes sense 🙂 However, when she found herself looking for the famous Underground City together with her friends Riccio and Mr. Ames, she found not only that the place was intriguingly hidden but also shut down since 2008! The adventure is worth the writing as it took patience, some Mandarin knowledge and cool green tea to survive the pilgrinage along the streets of Beijing. China has many mysteries, luckily this one is strangely out in the open. It all happened in a super hot summer afternoon of August…
We spent the entire morning in Tiananmen Square, probably the most tense square on this planet. Exhausted after much crowdedness, queuing and checkpoints, we decided to head over the mysterious Underground City of Beijing. Lucky for us, Mr. Ames was fully prepared with the information we needed since the night before so we were super thrilled to actually having to look for it 🙂
First, What is the Underground City? It is an underground complex built 10 meters below the street level that was built under Mao Zedong in 1969 and finished in 1979 with the sole purpose of protection to withstand nuclear attacks and any kind of air bombing, including chemical warfare in light of the conflict with the former Soviet Union, much to Mao’s paranoia. Officially called Dixia Cheng, it is basically a huge network of passageways (85 square km) wide enough to allow trucks passing through, allegedly connecting the Central railway station with Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. This complex was also stocked with food and medical supplies, water, munitions and weapons.
According to our notes there should have been many entrances, and after much walking, figuring out street names and probably even asking (although people there are not willing to help out with information) we managed to find this one:
Precisely on Xi Da Mo Chang street
To our surprise, the place was shut down, as we later found out it has been off for visitors since 2008 for “renovation” purposes.
Not happy with it, Stanito did try to open the door
Unable to open it, she climbed on whatever she could use for stepping onto and this is what’s inside
All we could spot were some hospital beds, bicycles, sand bags and pieces of wooden boxes. The surrounding were actually prettier 🙂 below is the behind wall of what it looked like the courtyard of the city