Beijing Underground City

There are many charming rumors that surround the Beijing Underground City (地下城). Many of them suggest that the network of tunnels under Beijing are for purposes-unknown and that their existence is suspicious.

Beijing’s Underground City Dixia Cheng is a cornucopia of arched, hospital-white corridors full of debris, empty iron bed frames, rotting vegetables and curious visitors.

The subterranean world of Dixia Cheng consists of a network of tunnels and chambers under Beijing that stretches across 33 square miles of underground catacombs.

Also named the “Underground Great Wall” for its vastness and military purpose, the tunnel complex was dug by hand by local citizens throughout the 1970’s to serve as a shelter during invasions, air raids, or nuclear attacks.

At the height of its readiness, there were more than 90 entrances to the underground corridors which were hidden in the backs of homes and businesses.

Dixia Cheng has been closed for renovations since 2008, but when it finally reopens visitors will once again be able to take shelter from their standard Beijing tourist spots inside this honeycomb of Communist paranoia.

The official tour takes visitors along only on a small circular stretch of the Underground City, along which a portrait of Mao Zedong can be seen amidst murals of locals volunteering to dig the tunnels.

You can only access a small part of the tunnels and you won’t be allowed to wander off. You will see sign posts for many of Beijing’s most famous places such as Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

There are rooms full of materials which had been horded and which remains unused for the coming nuclear assault. You may also be able to visit the silk farm which currently operates out of the tunnels – it’s run by Qianmen Arts and Crafts center now.

The tunnels were constructed during the 1970’s and might have been used as somewhat inadequate fallout shelters in the event of a nuclear exchange. They fell into disuse not long after and the tunnels were closed to visitors until early in the year 2000.

The tunnels began being built during 1969. Chairman Mao was disturbed by the ever increasingly hostile relationship with Russia and wanted to be sure that Beijing’s population would not be lost in the event of nuclear war.

He ordered the tunnel network to be constructed along with an Underground City complex which would house up to 6 million people. There were 70 wells sunk in the network and you can find the remains of doctor’s surgeries, roller skating rinks, shops, schools, etc. down there if you look far enough.

The tunnels were dug by hand and 300,000 Chinese folks (including children and the elderly) were involved in their excavation. The precise extent of the tunnel network is not fully understood.

The records from that period are incomplete and while there are many lovely theories as to how much of Beijing they cover; nobody knows for sure.

The precursor to Beijing Underground City was a huge underground civil air defense shelter, which started to be built in 1969 and was finished in 1979. With its entrance at Xidamochang Street, Qianmen Gate, Beijing Underground City is over 30 kilometers long, yet only one kilometer of it is open to the public now.

Beijing Underground City is eight meters below the ground and is two meters wide; it can accommodate over 300,000 people at one time, and has over 70 sites which are rich in groundwater. It has more than 3,000 ventilation holes, which continuously allow fresh air in.

A tablet of “Beijing Underground City” is before your eyes as you enter the underground city, below which the head-portrait of Mao Zedong is placed.

Army relics from the 1960’s are scattered everywhere in the underground city, which has a storeroom at each corner, some ammunition depots, some military supply depots and some battleground hospitals.

The daily utensils, such as porcelain bowls and shovels used by the masses, are displayed in the city as well. The red skid-proof carpet paves the way through the underground city so you won’t get lost as long as you walk along it.

A number of craftwork shops have opened in Beijing Underground City as well, which deal mainly in the four treasures of studying (a writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper), enamels, jade wares, silks, calligraphy works and paintings of celebrities, and traditional Chinese medicines.

China Highlights / Crickey Conservation News 2023.

3 Comments on “Beijing Underground City

  1. America also has underground bunkers, but only the rich can afford and defend and protect themselves against a nuclear Armageddon.


  2. Many former underground cities also prove that there were civilizations that lived in these places, protected by mother earth?


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