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Report - Odessa Catacombs, Ukraine - August 2015

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Visited with @Bertrina Bollockbrains and Brats of Bertie Bollockbrains

    Stretching to a length of 2500km, the Odessa Catacombs are prehaps the largest network of tunnels in the world. They are much larger than the catacombs of Paris (500km) and Rome (300km).

    Whilst in Odessa, it is possible to visit the Museum of Partisan Glory dedicated to the catacombs and walk about a kilometre of well-lit tunnels filled with stragetically placed period-dress dummies and artifacts. However, through the powers of the interweb, it is easy to find an unofficial guide and be led through the more exciting parts of the catacombs. There are literally of hundreds of ways into the catacombs and many are simple walk-ins. Whilst it is easy to get in, the catacombs are a complex labyrith of passages that make Box Mine resemble a straight tunnel in comparison. A guide is thus essential. It is said that 5-10 people get lost in the catacombs each year, of which only about half are rescued.

    On the eve of 2005, a group of local teens decided to spend the New Year getting drunk in the tunnels… One girl, named Masha, had wandered off at some point in the night. Her body wasn’t found until 2007, when coroners estimated that she had spent three days alone lost in the cold dark tunnels before finally dying of dehydration. A photo of her body in the catacombs can easily be found on the internet but I have decided not to link the photo into here.

    Anyways our guide was Egor and highly recommended, and is more than willing to offer overnight or multiday trips to those interested. If anyone is visiting then please PM me and I was pass on his address.

    This report is taken from 2 separate trips, each of about 3 hours – the first to some new workings that were dug out only about 20 years ago and used as a mushroom farm until the last few months and only explored for the first time a week before our trip, and the second trip to the oldest parts of the catacombs (the exact same area that @drhowser reported on a few weeks back).

    We did attempt to visit the Soviet Bunkers in the centre of the city as reported on these forums last year by @Limerick_Student, but unfortunately a key had been put onto the entrance and the keyholder could not be found in time even though we knew who he was.


    HISTORY

    The first underground stone mines started to appear in the 19th century, while vigorous construction took place in Odessa. They were used as a source of cheap construction materials. Limestone was cut using saws, and mining became so intensive that by the second half of the 19th century, the extensive network of catacombs created many inconveniences to the city.

    After the Russian Revolution of 1917, stone mining was banned within the central part of Odessa (inside the Porto-Franko zone, bounded by Old Port Franko and Panteleymonovskaya streets).

    During World War II the catacombs served as a hiding places for Soviet partisans, in particular the squad of V.A. Molodtsev. In his work The Waves of The Black Sea, Valentin Kataev described the battle between Soviet partisans against fascist invaders, underneath Odessa and its nearby suburb Usatovo. In her book Life from Stone, Sofiya de Havilland describes the catacombs and the part it played during WW2 with the partisans' use of it in their guerrilla warfare.

    In 1961 the "Search" (Poisk) club was created in order to explore the history of partisan movement among the catacombs. Since its creation, it has expanded understanding of the catacombs, and provided information to expand mapping of the tunnels.

    Since the beginning of the 21st century limestone mining has continued in the mines located in Dofinovka, Byldynka, and "Fomina balka" near Odessa. As the result of contemporary mining, the catacombs continue to expand.


    REPORT

    Both trips started from the village of Nerubayskoye, some 30km out of Odessa. With a taxi that drove at 170km per hour and ignored all sense of the highway code, it didn’t take long at all to get there! The first trip was to some new workings, used as a mushroom farm until very recently. We entered in one village and reappeared in another village, allegedly having covered 8km underground.

    01.JPG
    03.JPG

    Room used for mushroom farming 05.JPG
    08.JPG
    11.JPG

    Russian army ration pack (2 years out of date). It was at this point that our guide explained that munitions had been found nearby 12.JPG

    No matter where you are in the world, you always find an old pair of boots on an explore 15.JPG

    Just like the Paris Catacombs, "bases" complete with hooks for hammocks can be found 19.JPG

    Memo to self: Do not shine a torch directly in eldest son's face - it causes discomfort 22.JPG

    As we proceeded, the workings got older and smaller 26.JPG

    Finally the way out, having covered 8km 27.JPG

    Now to the oldest workings, some 200 years old 29.JPG
    31.JPG

    And again occasional bases
    38.JPG

    Partial skeleton remains, said to be 100 years old and of a young lady aged about 30-35 40.JPG

    Horse stables
    41.JPG
    44.JPG

    Finally, some graffiti shots: first a miner pulling a cart 46.JPG
    49.JPG
    50.JPG
    52.JPG
    55.JPG
    57.JPG

    Thanks for reading
     
    #1 Bertie Bollockbrains, Aug 31, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015

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  2. WhoDaresWins

    WhoDaresWins Let's do this
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    Glad you made it back! Nice report this, it looks rather extensive. 2500km is insane!! Liking some of that graffiti too.
     
  3. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Nice one dude, very much on my things to do list!
     
  4. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Yes - I have seen the news from Kiev today. Odessa, as of Saturday, is safe for the visitor with no hint of trouble. It made for a very cheap family beach holiday. Definitely thinking of returning for an overnight trip underground.
     
  5. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    Excellent mate, I know a lot of us have been looking at doing this ( for far too long actually).

    Can't wait to get over there.
     
    urban junky likes this.
  6. Bolts

    Bolts 28DL Regular User
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    Wouldn't want to get lost down there :eek:
     
  7. Will Knot

    Will Knot 28DL Regular User
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    Ace report that dude...:thumb
    Looks a decent explore...:cool:
     
  8. The_Raw

    The_Raw 28DL Regular User
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    Very cool, very jealous :thumb
     
  9. drhowser

    drhowser Bespectacled & irrelevant
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    Gutted you didn't get to the bunker, it sounds like a it's worth a visit!

    I didn't take any photos, but have you noticed the area with the black tide mark all round the walls? I'd love to know what caused that. It doesn't look like water anyway..
     
  10. trailboss99

    trailboss99 28DL Full Member
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    No you wouldn't and it happens too. Both locals and tourists have become lost and died over the years some quite recently.
     
  11. obscurity

    obscurity Flaxenation of the G!!!
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    wow...very nice. Looks like the perfect family holiday :thumb. Some nice flicks too mate :)
     
  12. Tomw1989

    Tomw1989 28DL Full Member
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    Looks like you had an awesome trip mate! If you do head over for an overnight trip, let me know! :)
     
  13. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Don't recall that area, but we did notice localised areas of high clay content and areas that were cess pits for the housing above. The guides seem to suggest that the floodwaters were constantly changing. We did see the bit you referred to in your report about being used for paintballing and I recognised the graffiti in some of your photos.

    Looking at a revisit next year. Odessa would be freezing in the winter with daytime temps no more than 1-3 degrees, but it warms up nicely from April. Some basic travel info: good hotels at less than £10 a night for a double room, two course restaurant meals at respectable places for 4 at about £8 total including drinks. The only warning I say is the taxi drivers who will charge way over the odds to gullible tourists... we learnt to use locals to flag them down and negotiate. Biggest bargain was seeing Verdi's Aida at the Opera House - cost £7 for 4 in the best box. If we attempted that at the Royal Opera in Covent Garden, London, would have had very little change from a thousand pounds. Well happy we went there for the annual family holiday and not somewhere a bit more normal.
     
  14. drhowser

    drhowser Bespectacled & irrelevant
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    The sixth picture from the old works, just above the graffiti shots. That black tide mark seemed to fill a whole section. Somewhere near that we were told was the only way through to a different part of the catas.
     
  15. Palisade

    Palisade 28DL Regular User
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    Nice report! Looks like you had an awesome time. Definitely want to get over there myself!
     
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