Friday, March 8, 2013

The Door to Hell: Found in Turkmenistan

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

During Dante’s time, the gateway to Hell would be a place to fear and avoid. But today, tourists visit the small village of Darvaz for no other reason that to see the Door to Hell, and of course, take a picture of themselves standing in front of it.

 So, what exactly is this place? Well, as you could probably guess, it isn’t the real door to Hell. It’s actually a deep crater (300+ feet wide by 65+ feet deep) that has been burning since 1971. A group of geologists were drilling at the site when the ground gave way under their heavy machinery. The resulting crater was filled with a natural gas that the geologists feared would escape into the atmosphere. So, what did they do? They set it on fire. They hoped that it would burn up the gas in a few days, but over 40 years later, it’s still burning. And what a sight it is! So, the next time you’re in Turkmenistan, stop by and check it out. Just don’t get too close to the edge. It might not be the real door to Hell, but you still wouldn’t want to fall in.

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