Catacombs of the Czech Republic – mystique and reality

Catacombs of a small town Jihlava, located in the southeast of the Czech Republic, is a place shrouded in many mysteries and secrets, which modern science is not yet able to unravel.

The three-level dungeons, a total length of which reaches 25 kilometers, run under the entire historic center of the city. According to researchers, the construction of Jihlava catacombs began in the Middle Ages, in the late 13th – early 16th centuries. Until now, there is still some debate about why those mysterious dungeons were built.

Perhaps they were the remnants of the miners who mined silver ore, or a kind of shelter system, where city dwellers hid during wars and fires. Either way, building catacombs was hard and dangerous work, and who knows how many medieval builders were buried alive under the granite caves. No wonder this eerie place has spawned so many ghost stories.

Today, just as many years ago, the phenomenal events in the Jihlava catacombs continue to stir the imagination of fans of adventure and mystery. To the long-standing legends of mystical happenings in the catacombs, eyewitness accounts of unexplained phenomena continue to be added today.

The sound of an organ is said to be heard at midnight in one of the corridors of the medieval underground passages, and ghosts and other supernatural phenomena have been observed here. Scientists previously dismissed as “unscientific” the ancient legends of the mysterious dungeons, are forced to pay attention to new and reliable testimony.

Tunnels have become accessible to tourists
Tunnels have become accessible to tourists

For example, in 1996, a group of archaeologists conducting research at ten meters depth absolutely clearly heard the sounds of the organ. A thorough search confirmed that there was not a single room in the vicinity where a musical instrument could be located. Psychologists who later examined the eyewitnesses ruled out the possibility of mass auditory hallucinations.

Residents explain what happened in their way. There is a legend of a brilliant young organist who lived in Jihlava in the 15th century. The Inquisition attributed the young man’s talent to a deal with the devil, and, as a result, the talented musician was entombed alive in one of the dungeons. It is believed that sad organ music can be heard every year on the day of the organist’s death.

The main sensation was the discovery by archaeologists of the “glowing staircase” in one of the least surveyed underground passages, the existence of which was unknown even to local residents. Taken samples of material did not confirm the presence of phosphorus. According to eyewitnesses, at first glance, the staircase does not make an impression – anything special – but gradually, it begins to emit an intensifying reddish-orange light. Even if you turn off the lantern pointed at the staircase – the glow of the staircase does not stop, its intensity does not decrease. In an attempt to explain the nature of this glow, it was suggested the version of the secret scientific research conducted underground during World War II.

In addition, in one of the remote branches of the subway, passing through the catacombs, a unique corridor was discovered, the walls emitting a soft greenish light. The mystery of the green glow of the walls in this corridor has been partially solved.

The mystery of the green glow of the walls in this corridor has been partially solved.
The mystery of the green glow of the walls in this corridor has been partially solved.

Chemical analysis of samples taken has confirmed the presence of a small amount of villemite (zinc silicate), which is characterized by a bright green luminescence. This rare mineral, which has crystallized on the walls, also creates a peculiar pattern resembling numbers and letters after illumination.

In the 1960s, parts of the catacombs were so destroyed that some streets in the city center began to simply fall through. The need for restoration of the catacombs became obvious, so the walls of many of the dungeons were reinforced with concrete. Since 1990, professionally reinforced parts of the tunnels have become accessible to tourists.


So why were the mysterious Jihlava Catacombs built? For what reason, in the depths of the dungeons, sounds music and emits a strange light? There are still no reliable answers to all these questions. There are only legends, assumptions and hypotheses.

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