The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
The Darvaza Gas Crater is better known as the Door to Hell. It is a fitting nickname. Located close to Derweze, a small village in Turkmenistan’s barren Karakum Desert, this is a place that does not seem possible. Yet countless visitors have travelled here during the last four decades or so — and all can attest that this is all too real. Calling it the Door to Hell ascribes this place a mythical status. But science has an explanation that is rather more prosaic. The Door to Hell was opened in the 1970s. The fires here have raged ever since.
It happened by accident, when careless Soviet engineers caused a natural gas field to collapse into a vast underground cavern below. The fire is said to have been started deliberately, in order to prevent methane escaping. No-one knows how to put it out. The result is spectacular, with immense flames and boiling mud beckoning tourists galore. Hot and Hellish, there’s nothing impossible about Darvaza.