Pekelné Doly (Mines of Hell)
The largest manmade caves in Europe now function as a motorbike club's headquarters.
The largest manmade sandstone caves in Europe, known as Pekelné Doly, or “Mines of Hell,” lie in a forested area near the Svitavka River. Dug in the 18th century to collect sand for the production of glass for mirrors, the mining operation excavated tunnels a whopping 37,600 square feet in total, supported by sturdy rock columns.
In World War II, the caverns were used as a clandestine rapid-fire munitions factory, but following the end of the war the caves were abandoned. That is until a motorcycle club moved in.
Motoklub Pekelné Doly takes its name from its headquarters. Their sigil is a bat, and they refer to the opening and closing of the caverns for the season as the “waking” and “sleeping” of the bat. The bikers use the caves not just as a meeting place, but as a riding ground too: Bikes can be raced inside on the roads painted throughout the tunnels. There is even a fully stocked underground bar which bikers can ride right up to, though non-alcoholic beverages are preferable for “drivers and abstainers.”
Pekelné Doly is no den of iniquity. The club hosts community events and offers the caves for private events. There is ample parking for cars and bikes alike onsite, and the club serves food as well as drinks to all those who wish to come explore the old quarry. Their emphasis is on road safety for motorbikes and vehicles alike, and their motto is “jezdi v klidu!,” “ride in peace!”
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