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Znojmo Catacombs

The underground passages of Znojmo

The Znojmo Catacombs are a vast labyrinth of underground passageways, cellars and subcellars situated under the historic city of Znojmo, in the Czech Republic. They were initially developed for defensive purposes.

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[edit] Development of the cellars

These grottos date back to the 14th century, and were gradually expanded into the 15th century by connecting the individual cellars beneath the houses and palaces in the city into an elaborate labyrinth.

[edit] Uses of the cellars

The catacombs were initially created to protect the inhabitants of the city against invading forces. In some places the passageways led under the fortifications and out of the city, allowing the hidden inhabitants to escape from the town to search for food in times of siege.

The subterranean caverns were adequately ventilated by air shafts. Fireplaces in the cellars were connected to house chimneys. Smoke could be seen emanating from seemingly empty houses by enemies, making the town resemble a ghost town. Znojmo inhabitants could survive for a long time in refuge due to the presence of wells and a drainage system in the catacombs.

If enemies happened to find entrance to the cellars they would have to consider several defensive measures including slippery slides which would drop the invader into deep wells that could not be scaled as well as trapdoors and narrow passageways.

Later the cellars were used for storage, especially the storage of wine.

Currently the catacombs are a tourist attraction, with a portion of the cellars open to the public April to October for a fee.[1]

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