Door to Hell: A firey hole that’s been burning for over 40 years

Imagine a massive, burning hole in the ground. Or, if you’ve got no imagination, look at these pictures.

Door to Hell

Soviet engineers were drilling for oil in Derweze, Turkmenistan, when this giant pit opened up beneath their feet. Similar to the holes that sometimes appear above abandoned coal mines – swallowing a family car and worrying nearby villagers – this huge crater gobbled up the oilmen’s camp and drilling equipment (but not any of them, fortunately).

Door to Hell

It also released large quantities of unpleasant gas, which the engineers decided it would be quicker to burn off than extract properly. However, there must have been some sort of miscalculation here, because the fire was lit in 1971 and it’s still showing no signs of going out.

Door to Hell

With a diameter of around 70 metres, the hole is scarily big. The boiling mud and hot orange flames make it look like a gateway into the underworld, so it’s no surprise that locals have named it the “Door to Hell”.

Inside the Door to Hell

The pit’s devilish appearance is a result of human activity – but seeing as this wasn’t intentional, and the gas was there anyway, it has now been burning for so long that it can probably be classed as a natural phenomenon. It doesn’t really matter – whether you consider it natural or man-made, the Door to Hell looks (to use an entirely inappropriate phrase) pretty cool.

Door to Hell

Somewhat optimistically, Turkmenistan is hoping to turn the Door to Hell into a tourist attraction. It’s easy to see the appeal of visiting such an unusual site, but it’s not exactly Disneyland and it seems unlikely that “come and see our burning pit” will make many holidaymakers change their destination. Having said that, the Door to Hell is very impressive so, if you’re going to Turkmenistan anyway, you might as well take a look.

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About Nick Heady

Nick Heady

My favourite holiday souvenir is a shower cap I brought home from the Luxor casino in Las Vegas. I’ve never used it, though. I’m saving it for a special occasion.

At the Luxor, all the casino games are inside a pyramid. The hotel rooms are also inside a pyramid. And their shower caps come in little pyramid-shaped boxes. It’s fantastic.

Once you’ve been to Vegas, there’s no need to go to Egypt. The Luxor’s pyramid has a giant lamp on top and, from the hotel windows, you can see a medieval castle – the same can’t be said for Egypt’s pyramids. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a model of the Sphinx that’s bigger than the one in Giza. It’s made of plastic, sure, but at least its nose is still intact.

Nick works in our marketing team

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