10 Amazing Secret Passages, Tunnels & Mysterious Hidden Rooms

9. The Cave Tunnels of Predjama Castle, Slovenia

Predjama-Castle-tunnel (Image: Stephen Colebourne, cc-4.0)

Predjama Castle doesn’t look like you’re typical 13th century castle, for a good reason – it’s absolutely not. Built against a sheer rock face and butting up against the entrance to Postojna Cave, the castle is amazingly well-fortified, as 15th century errant knight and robber baron Erazem Jamski could attest.

Predjama-Castle-tunnel-2 (Image: KLMircea, cc-sa-4.0)

A local lord from the end of the 15th century, he went up against the Habsburgs over an insult delivered onto his deceased friend. According to the story, he holed himself – and his loyal followers – up inside the castle when the Hapsburg army laid siege to them. He had a secret, though – a tunnel that ran between the castle and the massively extensive, 5-kilometer-long nearby cave system of tunnels. By night, he would use the cave to leave the castle and retrieve fresh supplies. He was so cocky, in fact, that he was said to regularly taunt the army outside by throwing fresh cherries at them. All things must come to an end, and his was a particularly unfitting one. A servant was bribed for the location of the tunnel, and to raise a flag when his master went to use the bathroom – an outhouse high up on the side of the castle. A single canon shot fired through the wall of the bathroom is said to have been the end of the infamous robber lord.

Predjama-Castle-tunnel-3 (Image: Willem van Valkenburg, cc-nc-sa-4.0; Leonardo, cc-nc-4.0 )

In 1818, the tunnels were rediscovered and opened to tourism; a railway was added first, with guides that pushed along the train cars. Eventually, there was a gas locomotive added and finally an electric one in 1945 – after the cave’s use as a storage facility for the German army during World War Two.

Today, you can still go visit and tour the castle and the tunnels behind it. There’s also a medieval tournament held every summer on the grounds, using the 16th century rules and guidelines to dictate the regulations of field combat.

8. The Castle that Sherlock Holmes Built…. Sort of

gillette-castle-tunnel (Image: Joe Mabel, cc-sa-4.0)

The popular image of Sherlock Holmes is one that includes a deerstalker cap, a pipe, and the phrase, “Elementary….” but it’s also well known that none of those things actually came from Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Instead, they were the inventions of the man who portrayed Sherlock Holmes on the stage on more than 1,300 different occasions – William Gillette.

Not surprisingly, Gillette was something of an eccentric who loved a good mystery – and that’s clear by the mansion he built. It overlooks the Connecticut River, where it looks extremely out of place. Made from local stone (which, the story says, he paid for by the cartload as locals would bring it up to the construction site), the house was built between 1914 and 1919, and it was made to look like a medieval German castle. Inside, it looked more like a hunting lodge than a castle, and was so full of secrets that even the stalwart investigator would have approved.

gillette-castle-secret-passage (Image: epicfantasy via YouTube)

There are a series of hidden passages that the stage actor built just so he would be able to make grand entrances – and exits – to astonish his guests. There are secret doors that he had installed just in case he had unwanted company and needed to make a quick getaway, and there’s also a series of adjustable mirrors that allowed him to view the goings-on in various rooms from secret passages outside.

gillette-castle-secret-passage-3 (Image: Magnus Bäck, cc-3.0)

The house also has 47 doors – each one of them is unique, and each one of them has a massive, specially-designed locking mechanism – some take up the width of the entire door, and look like something more suited to a steampunk novel than a medieval castle. Pieces of furniture were built on tracks in the floor so they would move with the flip of a switch or the push of a button, and flipping another switch would reveal a secret staircase to a secret room, complete with a fireplace.

gillette-castle-secret-passage-2 (Image: Microinjection, cc-sa-3.0)

Tragically, Gillette’s wife passed away before the mansion was built, and the couple had no children. There were other residents at the house, though – Gillette was a passionate cat person, and at any given time there were up to 17 that roamed the mansion’s secret passages with him.


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About the author: Debra Kelly




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