Are there really gates to hell right here on our little planet? Many religions detail an afterlife that serves as a punishment for misdeeds committed here on Earth. There is a common link between different cultures and belief systems - live a virtuous life, or earn a vacation in eternal torment. While various faiths paint vivid descriptions of the grim underworld – from murky purgatories to fiery agony to complete nothingness - it’s generally assumed that you can only glimpse hell by death after a life of sin. For the average hell-seeker, this requires a lot of patience and a lifetime of paying your dastardly dues. Frankly, that sounds like a ton of work. But what if that were not the case? What if there were portals to this dreadful plane all around the globe? Who wouldn’t want a quick weekend jaunt to give infinite condemnation and misery a trial run? There are many places around the world purported to be gateways to hell - and they're all listed here.
A dormant volcano surrounded by seared earth, a poisonous lake, and wafting clouds of sulfur - it's not difficult to see how Mount Osore conjures a vision of hell. A sacred Buddhist site located on the remote Shimokita Peninsula of Japan, the name "Mount Osore" aptly translates to Mountain of Horror. Sitting near the Sanzu River, which Japanese Buddhist belief says all souls must cross before the afterlife, popular mythology describes Mount Osore itself as the gateway to hell.
While this description may not sound alluring for your next vacation, it is actually a popular tourist destination. During your stay at the cusp of the underworld, you can visit with the Itako: a group of elderly, blind shamans who claim to communicate with the dead. You know, in case you want a want a firsthand review of the other side.
St. Patrick's Purgatory
In Lough Derg, a lake in County Donegal, Ireland, sits Station Island. It's a small, green, picturesque spot of land with breathtaking vistas of the Atlantic and the Irish countryside. It's also a gateway to Hell. Legend holds that St. Patrick was visited by Jesus on Station Island; the Son of God led Patrick to a pit that was a portal to hell.
The visions he saw - those of brutal punishment and torture - were relayed by St. Patrick to reassure his followers that the afterlife was real, and could be very uncomfortable. Today, a monastery sits on the island as a means of shielding the Earth from this portal, and tourism is generally discouraged.
In the southwestern region of Turkey lies the ancient city of Hierapolis, a Greco-Roman pilgrimage site home to Pluto's Gate - a long-fabled and only recently unearthed entryway to hell.
Discovered by archeologists in 2013 after decades of efforts, Pluto's Gate differs from other doorways to hell in that it can, in fact, actually kill you. Ancient literature describes travelers bringing animals to the site as a means of sacrifice to the god Pluto.
These unfortunate creatures would be subjected to mephitic gasses that leak from the rocks of the gate and in turn die from suffocation. Needless to say, visiting hell from Pluto's Gate requires a certain degree of commitment.
Located roughly 50 miles north of Prague, Houska Castle is an imposing 13th century gothic Mansion that looms over the Czech countryside. With an undeniably eerie appearance, it's what's allegedly beneath it that's far more sinister - a bottomless pit that leads directly to hell.
Prior to the construction of Houska Castle, local villagers were having issues with demonic creatures exiting the pit at night and harassing anyone who dared to leave their home. Local legend also describes a man being lowered into the pit by rope and, after moving out of eyesight, beginning to shriek in sheer terror. It's said that when he was raised from the pit he had aged some 30 years.
Around 1253 AD, locals had seen enough of this portal and Houska Castle was built to keep the demons at bay. Little is known of any other practical use for the castle, as it had no water source, fortifications, no known proximity to trade routes, and also no tenants for decades after construction. Here's hoping that basement is locked.