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Visiting The Gates Of Hell All Over The World (PHOTOS)

First Posted: 10/21/2011 9:16 am EDT Updated: 11/29/2012 4:22 pm EST

Grandma may be breathless over her trip to the Holy Land and your cousin may want to go snowboarding at Heavenly, but most people receive more personal recommendations to go to one place more than any other. That place is, of course, Hell.

Unfortunately, the people who issue the common directive to "Go to Hell," are normally woefully unspecific about how to get there. It turns out that Hell, like Carnegie Hall, is accessible to people willing to follow two very different sets of directions. The easiest way to get there is to lie, cheat, steal, fornicate, blaspheme and wait for the inevitable. The problem with this approach is that you might not get a round-trip ticket. The second way is a bit more complicated: Find the gates to Hell and walk right through.

Legend has long held that there are passageways that lead to the underworld. In the spirit of Halloween, we've found 10 possible entrances to the ultimate pit of despair ranging from the innocuous (a lovely town in Norway) to the decidedly warmer (a perpetual fire in Turkmenistan).

In case Virgil isn't available, we would also suggest a little preparatory reading. Hell, rather unsurprisingly, has an excellent website where you can make reservations for some excellent acts and there are also online and print guides to the only neighborhood that never gentrifies.

For maximum effect, play some Led Zeppelin while clicking through our guide to the ultimate bonfire.

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  • Xibalba, Belize

    According the Popul Vuh, a sacred Mayan text, the dead entered Xibalba, the underworld, through a cave system only to confront rivers of scorpions and blood and a house filled with jaguars.

  • Xibalba

    There are several theories about which cave systems the Mayans believed led to Xibalba, but the theory that the Sibun Caves of Belize were the inspiration for the myth has persisted over the years.

  • Xibalba

    Today, tourists in Belize can go on tubing trips through the caves that may have once frightened even the fiercest warriors. Visitors are urged not to touch any artifacts they find in order to make sure the remnants of Mayan visits to the site can be properly inspected by archeologists.

  • Lake Avernus, Italy

    A calm blue puddle in a volcanic caldera, Lake Avernus was believed to be the entrance to the underworld by the Greeks and the Romans and is described in both <em>The Inferno</em> and <em>The Odyssey</em> as the entrance to Hades.

  • Lake Avernus

    In 2010 the lake, which still smells slightly of sulfur, was seized from a businessman named Gennaro Cardillo by Italian officials who believed he was linked to organized crime.

  • Lake Avernus

    The lake is just west of Naples and visitors will find the remains of Roman baths on the shore as well as a ruined temple to Apollo.

  • Guinee, West Africa

    In Haitian Vodou, more commonly known as Voodoo, the afterlife is called "Guinee," a reference to many slaves ancestral home in West Africa.

  • Guinee

    The sacred city of Guinee should probably not be conflated with the modern nation of Guinea. Voodoo practitioners do not believe that they are heading overseas when they die -- though their belief in a spiritual homeland is bound up in their African identity.

  • Guinee

    Living visitors to Guinea will likely land in Conakry, the capital, where they will find themselves a short minibus ride away from superb beaches and a short boat ride from the tropical Loos Islands.

  • The Gates of Hell, Paris

    Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker" has become so famous in its own right that many people forget it was originally conceived as part of the much grander work "The Gates of Hell," which is on display at the <a href="http://www.musee-rodin.fr/" target="_hplink">artist's museum</a> in Paris.

  • The Gates of Hell

    Rodin conceived of the sculpture as a depiction of a scene from Dante's <em>Inferno</em> and continued working on the project for over a decade after it was supposed to be finished.

  • Gates of Hell

    Casts of Rodin's masterpiece can be found in Philadelphia, Tokyo, Seoul, Zurich and Stanford, California.

  • Darvaza, Turkmenistan

    Darvaza, where an underground gas fire has been burning for over 35 years, is often referred to by locals as the door to hell.

  • Darvaza

    The fire began when a group of geologists looking for natural gas deposits found an underground cave and, hesitant to enter because of fumes, tried to burn off poisonous gases.

  • Darvaza

    Getting to Darvaza is a hellish task. Central Turkmenistan is not a convenient place to get to unless you're on the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/mongol-rally" target="_hplink">Mongol Rally</a>. There is also a ticking clock: The Turkmen president has declared his intentions to snuff the fire.

  • The Beppu Hells, Japan

    Southern Japan's Beppu Hells are actually a series of colored geothermal baths presided over by a sculpture of a demon.

  • The Beppu Hells

    The wide variety of pools have all sorts of devilish names like Chemical Hell, Blood Hell, Cooking Pot Hell and Sea Hell, which reflect their varied appearances.

  • The Beppu Hells

    There are nine hells in total with seven in the Kannawa district and two in the Shibaseki district. Tourists can <a href="http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4700.html" target="_hplink">catch buses</a> to the hells from Beppu City every 15 minutes.

  • Hell, Norway

    A Frenchman said, "Hell is other people," but a Norwegian knows that Hell is actually a small village just outside Sandfærhus.

  • Hell

    Concerned travelers should know that the word "Hel" means luck in Norwegian and has little to do with eternal suffering and torture.

  • Hell

    Music lovers headed to the <a href="http://www.hellblues.com/" target="_hplink">Hell Blues Festival </a>disembark at Hell Station on the Trøndelag Commuter Rail.

  • Yellowstone National Park

    Before geologists were able to fully explain the geothermal activity in Yellowstone Park, the areas swathe of wilderness was rumored to be one of the gates to Hell.

  • Yellowstone

    Herds of buffalo constrained by pools of superheated water and plumes of steam that punctuated the sky even in winter? Stories about the park from the first explorers to enter it were weird and implausible.

  • Yellowstone

    Today the park is a popular tourist attraction, though it still periodically makes headlines when someone suddenly ends up in hot water.

  • St. Patrick's Purgatory, Ireland

    St. Patrick's enthusiasm for winning converts was flagging because the Irish wanted proof about the afterlife that he couldn't provide. Then, as myth has it, God pointed him towards a cave on Station Island off Donegal and identified it as the entrance to Purgatory.

  • Wang Saen Suk, Thailand

    The Hell Garden of Wang Saen Suk outside of Bangkok features graphic sculptures of sinners being tortured behind a bright sign that reads, "Welcome to Hell." The garden is technically part of Buddhist temple and is apparently meant to encourage good behavior.

  • St. Patrick's Purgatory

    The entrance to the cave St. Patrick used to convince heathens about the Gospel was lost centuries ago, though that hasn't kept visitors to Station and nearby islands from looking.

  • Hell, Grand Cayman islands

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/radman0073"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/radman0073">radman0073</a>:<br />"HELL" of a post office in Hell, Grand Cayman Islands

  • Behind the mask of money......

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Occupied_By_Light"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Occupied_By_Light">Occupied By Light</a>:<br />The life of lies often requires an intermission in nature, just to keep you sane, so why bother with the lies?

  • Hell, Cayman Islands

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stevecay"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stevecay">stevecay</a>:<br />Black limestone formations 1.5 million years old are what many people think of as the gates to hell

  • Hell, Cayman Islands

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stevecay"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stevecay">stevecay</a>:<br />Get your souvenirs from Hell right here!

  • Hell, Cayman Islands

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stevecay"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stevecay">stevecay</a>:<br />

  • The Grotto

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/lizleorico"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/lizleorico">lizleorico</a>:<br />In the still isolate trails of the Guadalupe's, hidden away in beckoning darkness,is a grotesque limestone cave formation known to locals as " The Grotto".Perhaps the playground to the Legions.

  • Welcome to Hell

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/MattPerry"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/2305574.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/MattPerry">MattPerry</a>:<br />Hell, MI

  • Entrance to the Underworld at Tonina

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/WhatsOverThere"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/WhatsOverThere">WhatsOverThere</a>:<br />The doors on the bottom of the ruins of Tonina lead directly into the Maya underworld, as seen on http://mayantrip.com

  • Cave of the Chorreadero Chiapas Mexico

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/WhatsOverThere"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/WhatsOverThere">WhatsOverThere</a>:<br />This cave and waterfall in Chiapas Mexico opens into a tunnel complex leading into Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. As seen on http://mayantrip.com

  • Orange County, California

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Johnny_Dionysus_Warpath"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Johnny_Dionysus_Warpath">Johnny Dionysus Warpath</a>:<br />It's pretty difficult to see in the picture, but there is actually an inscription that reads "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here (unless you are rich, white, conservative, and an evangelical Christian)"

  • Hell's Gate on Fraser River Canada

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/113783-tiny.png?20081101233627" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood">canadagood</a>:<br />Top terminal of gondola ride to bottom of Hell's Gate in British Columbia, Canada

  • Hell's Gate on Fraser River Canada

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/113783-tiny.png?20081101233627" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood">canadagood</a>:<br />Bottom of Hell's Gate on Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada. In the spring, the river is 500 foot deep and just 115 foot wide.

  • Little Hell's Gate Regional Park in British Columbia

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/113783-tiny.png?20081101233627" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood">canadagood</a>:<br />Sign at entrance to the Little Hell's Gate Regional Park in British Columbia, Canada.

  • Little Hell's Gate Regional Park in British Columbia

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/113783-tiny.png?20081101233627" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood">canadagood</a>:<br />Little Hell's Gate on North Thompson River in British Columbia. Here a major river squeezes through an opening about 35 foot wide.

  • Rodin's Hell's Gate in Plaster - d'Orsay Museum

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/113783-tiny.png?20081101233627" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood">canadagood</a>:<br />Plaster cast of Pont d'Enfer (or Gates of Hell) by Rodin on mezzanine gallery of d'Orsay art museum in Paris.

  • Rodin's Gates of Hell in Tokyo, Japan

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/113783-tiny.png?20081101233627" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood">canadagood</a>:<br />Bronze cast of Gates of Hell in Ueno Park, Tokyo. One of several in major world cities.

  • Rodin's Hell's Gate at Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/113783-tiny.png?20081101233627" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/canadagood">canadagood</a>:<br />Bronze cast of Gates of Hell at Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. This is Rodin's masterwork in a great museum.

Photo: Flickr: rapidtravelchai

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